Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Reflecting on Autumn at the Beginning of Spring

Autumn is hard for me. I try to stay optimistic and I try to see what God is doing in the colors and the beauty and the predictability of it all... but in the end, I look around and all of creation looks as though it has died. Anticipating this annual "death" causes me to watch the end of summer with a great vigilance. In August, the bright green glory of the lush forest all around me changes in a tiny, subtle way. A dullness invades. The green changes imperceptibly and I know it has begun... shorter days, bare trees, a long season of cold. There is something inside me that wants to gather all that green up into my arms and hold tightly to it in hopes that it might stay.

You may wonder why I stay here then... in the middle of the country... where I will face this loss each year, no matter what I want. There is a flip-side to this coin that is comforting and holds me tightly to this place. There is a wonder in being able to see God's hand all around me, doing amazingly artistic things in a new and glorious ways, throughout each unique season. The rhythm of it gives a structure to my life and helps me to remember that my Heavenly Father is never far away, never uninvolved, never boring, never idle... Always Good.

So, why think through Autumn on our first truly Spring-like day? Months ago, I said good-bye to all that green and today I am greeted with something new. Today, I can see how the loss of one well-loved season can usher in a new beginning. And the wait is worth it, even when the winter is so long.

Last night, we were taking prayer requests at dinner and I told my family that I am so grateful that Spring is coming. I mentioned that I love the way God will take his very own finger and gently push my flowers up out of the thawing earth.

Benjamin looked over at me and said, "That's a pretty cool image, Mom."

The cool part is it's true. Look around today. Look at what He is doing in creation... tiny flowers, baby leaves, warmer temperatures! With a loving hand, God is having a wonderful time bringing the next season to pass. We have waited a long time to see the glory of it... but we can be sure it is worth the wait.

Parenting is like this too, my friends. We revel in the glory of a baby in our arms, those sweet, long moments of rocking and gazing and singing when all seems right with the world. It is what our little-girl-hearts dreamed of decades before. Then suddenly, that bundle of joy scrambles to get down and crawls away. It can feel like Autumn as we say good-bye to the stillness of a newborn and nervously step into the busyness of a toddler. And then, a tiny hand slips into ours and pulls us over to see a flower, a brother, a tower of blocks. It is Spring again at that very moment, as we discover the things that our child values... the experiences and sights and sounds that make their eyes light up and their giggles erupt. Being a mom to our children is full of seasons and while the end of one may feel like a loss to us, the next season will bring moments of joy and newness and beauty, if we take the time to celebrate the change along the way.

So, as parents, we continue the journey. We walk. We wait. We watch. We gather them up in our arms... but we cannot keep them in the place they sit today. We can journey with them and rejoice with them as the people we love best leave one short season to grow into the next. This I know for sure: It is the hand of our Creator that brings that something new. He is with them. He is working. And all of us will be blessed by His labor of joy as the glory of His new creation becomes abundantly clear.

I love Spring. I love the newness. I love the hope. I love the reminder that God is in and through it all. If He can create a masterpiece in nature all around us, what wonder will He work in us, the ones that He loves best?

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