One of the things I love about living in Oklahoma is that we, for the most part, get to experience four distinct seasons. I will admit that Winter has been sort of "light" for the past couple of years; still you can tell that it's not Summer, Fall, or Spring. With each new season, activities change; so do the scenes of nature that surround us. It is a reminder that life is ever changing and that each season of life is a opportunity to know God, our self, and others in new and deeper ways...
Years ago, Gail Sheehy made adult developmental psychology popular through the publication of her book, Passages. During that same era, Daniel Levinson sparked even more interest in this topic with the release of: The Seasons Of A Man's Life. But neither of these were the first to direct our attention to the relationship between seasonal changes and life transitions. That accolade would have to go the writer of Ecclesiastes and the beautiful poetry of chapter three:
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,
time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
The passage is conclude with the marvelous proclamation of verse 11:
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart.
These verses remind us that every season of life is an occasion for beauty (if we can see it) and I personally believe that the beauty we enjoy comes largely from the relationships we share. It is also a reminder that our quest, at every season of life, should be to know God well. Eternity, we are told, is in the human heart and the ultimate goal of our journey is to be at home with Him. So perhaps the questions before us, as we begin this season of Fall, are: What beauty do you now see and enjoy? and How is God presently speaking and working in your life? For me, the answers are: 1) a deeper realization of how blessed I am because of my family and friends; and 2) God is reminding me, as I prepare for the "season of retirement," that I desperately need to trust God to lead me into this next stage of life.
It was the Byrds who popularized this passage of scripture in their song, "Turn, Turn, Turn;" but I believe the most beautiful musical expression that I have found is a song, written by the Dillards, titled, There Is A Time. (Click on the link if you would like to hear). So I hope that this season will be one of beauty for you; and that, for each of us, eternity will truly be a bit more present within our hearts.
Dr. Allen Schneider is a United Methodist pastor and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist presently serving the Sapulpa and greater Tulsa communities.