Nate and I always loved summer best. Our birthdays are both in August, which established summertime as party time when we were children. As kids we also spent hundreds of hours every summer in the water, delighting in time at a beach or pool. Once we had children of our own, there was no better vacation destination than a beach. What else is so much fun for all ages and stages? Summer also let us keep our windows open for weeks at a time and eat dinners outdoors where clean-up was a breeze. The summer season meant road trips, long evening walks and the absence of a school-schedule-dictatorship. Summer was our favorite.
Even so, I’d never dispute the loveliness of spring or majesty of autumn. But here I am in that fourth season, bleak wintertime. A Michigan blizzard is clawing at my windows, and the car is buried in snow. Our driveway needs shoveling again, and incredibly tall trees are bending perilously, giving in to nature’s forceful winds. In addition to all this, my heart and emotions are in a winter of their own.
I’ve always wanted to do whatever I could to keep winter at bay for as long as possible, mostly because it’s the opposite of summer. But every season has it glories. God proved that to me today. Jack needed a walk, so we struck out for the lake, despite the wild weather.
Our first glimpse of the beach was striking, despite tasting sand mixed with flying snow. Waves roared in unison with swaying pines on the bluff, and the dune, with its swirl of sand mixed with snow, looked like a giant bowl of fudge ripple ice cream. Suddenly I forgot all about summer, shouting over the wind’s racket about the splendor of winter. Jack wondered if I was in distress, but the view was so exhilarating, it just spilled out in words. God is right. Every season has its beauty.
That’s true about life, too, and even about death. When Nate died, the process of letting him go was much like an icy winter day. Our emotions were dark and stormy with sadness, and when he died, he became cold and lifeless. Yet the best spring of his existence came immediately on the heels of that wintry cold as he stepped into the warmth of paradise.
Every season has its advantages and disadvantages. Personally, I’ve got one foot in life’s autumn and the other on the edge of winter. How this next season of aging goes is up to God. Only he knows when my eternal spring will begin. I may live so long that looking back at 65 will seem like summertime, but I hope not.
Nate is blessed, because he will never have to experience the negatives of life’s winter season. He died in his autumn. If I have to travel a long time in winter, I want to have eyes that accurately take in the view. Just as today’s wintertime beach amazed me with its beauty, so there will be good things about life’s winter season, too. Although a fresh crop of troubles will most assuredly accompany it, Scripture tells me God is “a very present help in trouble” …. not just present, but very present, so even that can’t be all bad.
I’m thankful for the 64 summers I’ve experienced, as well as the emotional summers of life. I’m also grateful for the other seasons, and that includes barren winters. And, contrary to nature’s winters which don’t produce crops at all, our emotional winters often yield the finest harvests of our lives.
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)
”As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.” (Genesis 8:22)