I am a product of my Western heritage in that I tend to see all things as linear. I am learning the cyclical nature of life and faith. Linear perspective has no space for recurring seasons of doubt, suffering, silence, and death. In a linear perspective, one “winter” is okay, but another is a crisis. But this isn’t the reality of nature or faith. We are seasonal beings, and every season contains both hope and hints of the coming change.
In autumn we know that something is dying – parts of our false self, truths we find are not so truthful, relationships that no longer should be. Yet this dying is the very seeds of hope from the coming spring. Winter is cold and lonely, yet held within winter is clarity of who we are and who we are becoming. Winter is where we discover our belovedness and our identity. Spring is like that first deep breath a mother takes after her baby is born… it’s been so long! I almost forgot what this was like. Things aren’t done forming, but we know we have come up for air. Something has settled in our souls, and only time will tell what it will look like in full bloom. Summer brings us the opportunity to play because we can see all the richness of the harvest alive in our gardens. The seeds have grown, and we are given the gift to enjoy the fruit and to share what we’ve cultivated. And soon enough, our spirit awakens to the realization that there is something not quite right. Something needs to die so that our soil is richer for the next season of plenty.
This cyclical perspective of spirituality is deeply comforting to me. It gives me space to fling my arms wide and embrace the summer sun and also to open my hands in gratitude for what the winter’s chill will clarify. In terms of vocation, the cycles of life give me the opportunity to grow and learn, to practice and fail without fear. As I step into a brand new spring in my own journey, I am so profoundly grateful for the recent darkness of winter. And while I hope to enjoy a long spring and summer season, when the weather starts getting colder again, I will not be afraid.
(This post is a reflection from a book I recently read and highly recommend called Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation by Parker Palmer.)