I got to hear from one of my favorite teachers yesterday. He is a Ugandan bishop who blesses our church with his presence now and then. He is able to speak challenging words while grinning ear to ear. My mother-in-law heard him for the first time yesterday and said, "There is just something about him...some light about him..." and I agreed wholeheartedly.
He does not know me by name (though I think he would know my husband by name so maybe it counts as proxy?). I have only heard him a few times in my life. And maybe it's just because it is fresh in my brain but yesterday, his words seemed especially meaningful to me personally.
He was speaking about the seasons of life--both seasons in the natural world (fall, spring, summer, winter, rain, drought, etc.) and of our own individual lives. Of course, he mentioned this passage which made me think of this song and thus, I have had The Byrds in my head all day (and because we have been watching The Wonder Years lately, I keep waiting for Kevin's narrating voice to pop in).
Anyway, he was talking about making the best of each season as it comes. It's not that hard to apply this idea of seasons changing to one's life in theory, especially when the weather is turning ever cooler.
But even at the most basic level, this change does not always come easy.
Take me, for example. I inherited a very deep burning hatred for cold weather (thanks Dad!). I do not like it. I am a warm weather person through and through.
And, more than that, I do not even allow myself to face the reality that the season has changed. Spring has passed. Summer is gone. It is fall. (And soon it will be winter.)
I had to laugh as Bishop Zac remarked on attitudes such as mine. "Take today, for example," he said, in reference to the (mercifully!) warmer temperatures outside as the sun shone in, "People are wearing flip-flips maybe and even shorts, saying, 'It feels like summer outside!'...but it is not! It is fall! It is not summer! It is fall!"
(I apologize for my inability to capture his charming accent.)
It is fall.
This is not news to us. Quite clearly the natural world is changing--the light fades quickly in evening. Our heater is on. I dress in layers. Starbucks is carrying Pumpkin Spice Lattes.
And some of us (like my husband) claim to appreciate the fact that we get (get!) to experience all four seasons. How awesome! he says. (I say "claim" because then I remind him of the summer heat that makes him fussy...but his selective memory can remember no such thing.)
This is not the first time I've heard this message, even, or at least this idea.
But can I be honest and say that it has been a hard year? It has. For me. And for many dear to me. And thus, this message of "making the most" of a season should ring a bit hollow. For who can "make the most" of a horrible season? A time to dance is easy...what happens when it is a time to mourn? What of the seasons of drought, of strife?
I am not one to advocate a "grin and bear it" life nor even a "fake it 'til you make it" because if anything, I have learned this year especially, that in hard times, I need honesty and I need a community in which to be honest (or as honest as we let ourselves be with one another).
And maybe that is it. Maybe that is "making the most" of these seasons that are not fun, that are not ideal, that are not good in many ways and that leave us a bit bruised for awhile...the ability to come through. To survive it. To at the end, blink and say That was hard. But I am here. And look at all these people who walked through it with me!
For me, that season has passed. And yes, hard times will come again, sure, but they are not now. And that gives me hope.
Maybe you are in a gut-wrenching season. Maybe it is your time to dance. Maybe your season seems unexceptional. Maybe yours is a smidge too cloudy for your taste.
Make the most of it! Bishop Zac would say.
...It is not the end of the story, I would like to add in a whisper.
For it is fall.
...and one day, it will be spring again.