Winter has made the Archipelago a barren landscape of ice and snow. Gone is the smell of summer rain, the microbial magic in the dew covered soil of the garden and the floor of the woods. The carefree bird song and warm summer breezes no longer play like music in the leafy crowns of the trees outside my open window.
This morning I saw the grey squirrels huddle on the bare branches. I watched their desperate digging deep into the lean times of January, to find one small acorn. A meager meal buried beneath Octobers fallen and forgotten colors.
It is easy for my mind to turn gloomy and my heart to grow empty when the world is cold and dark. My world becomes very small when the divide between warm shelter and the frozen landscape outside is sharply defined.
Prayer has always gotten me through these bleak and barren months. It is my hour of laying in the grass and watching the clouds roll by, which I carry with me through the day.
But watching the squirrels digging in the snow I was struck by the fact that the change of the seasons could be thought of as four lessons on the full arc of a human life.
Spring is our youth, a time we learn about what we are and what the world around us is. We watch, do and learn, take instruction from those who came before us and discern how these two halves fit together.
Summer is the first season to go out into the world and use what skills, talents, and wisdom we have developed in spring. Still learning but mostly doing to accomplish.
Autumn is a time to collect up and store the results of applying our talents and wisdom in the long days of summer work.
Winter is the lean time of old age and death. The harvest of our efforts, which we developed in spring, applied in summer, gathered and stored in autumn. What we have accumulated is the foundation of our comfort in old age. It determines our place in what lay ahead.
“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” Genesis 8:22
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11