There are seasons of life where nothing feels certain. Times when you aren’t sure what happens next. Places on the road where the truth of life’s unpredictability is too real.
This is where I am now, at a place where many things are uncertain, challenges and difficulties are everywhere. Worry and frustration over people I love hurting and going through difficult times and trials, no way of knowing how it will all work out in the end. Concern over other aspects of life that are out of my control. Finding my way slowly and, at times, painfully through circumstances I wasn’t expecting or desiring.
In seasons such as these being open, staying open seems a humongous task. My wants and needs are not evil or bad but I know they will only bring suffering if I choose to believe they are the only way. Accepting whatever life throws at me, walking life’s path not being able to see far ahead, letting go of anything preconceived and accepting what is given will take courage.
It seems to always come back to trust and acceptance.
Space Between –
Today has been a day of waiting. A weather front moved into our area on Friday and it has been raining off and on for three days.
Outside the living room window is our front porch with a tin roof. There is no mistake rain is falling when listening to one of the best songs ever. On a cool, cloudy, rainy day a tin roof is a nap maker, guaranteed.
Although the sound of raindrops on the tin is beautiful we also have a dog who lets us know when he’s ready to go outside. We try to wait for a lull in the melody but sometimes we force him and ourselves outside.
I have a friend who’s in a place where they’d rather not be. They are trapped and wanting a way out. However, there has been no indication its time. It is a season of waiting, a space between being unable to move and desiring very much to do so.
Living in the space between can be frustrating and maddening. Wisdom teaches us that existing in the time between the seasons, the challenge and the overcoming, the obstacle and the crossing over it, the sickness and renewed health, isn’t easy but can produce in us growth and maturation.
It is the seed planted in the ground which grows not the one carried with us.
Fill Up –
Warm weather, especially as you near Spring, has a way of lulling you into a false sense of security. We use a big kerosene heater to warm our little farmhouse and I have two big kerosene cans to fill the lamp when needed. The catch is that we haven’t needed the heater for a couple of weeks because of unseasonable warmth and I had run out of oil the last time I filled it up.
It was warm this week, temps hitting almost 80 degrees on Friday. However, the weekend brought a cool front through the area, and Saturday and Sunday have been chilly! The temps dropped into the 20’s last night and it was cold in the house this morning! I got out of the bed a little after 6 o’clock and realized to warm things up I was going to have to grab the kerosene cans and drive to one of the few gas stations that carry kerosene and fill them up. I did and made it back home, put the kerosene into the heater and its warmth quickly spread through our home.
I didn’t want to get outside this morning, nor drive to a gas station, or stand in the cold while filling up the cans. What I did want was warmth and if you have no fuel you have not heat. A good lesson for little farmhouses and people of all shapes and sizes.
The sight and sounds of it are everywhere. Even though it has been cold today with temps staying in the low 20’s, the sun has shone most of the day and the melting of the snow we received Thursday and Friday has begun. Each time I take the dog outside, more and more of it has retreated from the rooftops, tree limbs, sidewalks, and grass. The frigid air cannot stop the heat from the light of the sun, cannot stop the snow from going.
There’s wisdom in the mud and leftover, soon to be gone, snow. Nothing lasts. Whether beauty or ugliness it all will pass and soon there’ll be no trace of it. It’s the same with the storms and seasons which we encounter on the path of life. Whether attractive like the snow or repulsive as the mud, all must be accepted and allowed to endure for their time.
Life is nothing if not always transitioning. Each moment, season, lifetime, is fleeting. Welcome with open hand and do not grasp as it goes away.
It snowed last night and today. It’s not a lot but a few inches and everything is a pristine white. The other day I was complaining about the brown, gray, dead look of winter and today the season revealed it too, can be beautiful. I’m not a fan of snow but the way it covers everything, makes it all look different, changes and challenges my outlook, even for a short moment, is wonderful.
The quote in the picture also reminds us that we have the power to change a difficult season for ourselves and others with acts of kindness. I would add; love, grace, forgiveness.
I told someone this week; “You sure are complaining a lot!” I now wish I would have blanketed them with compassion and compliments and perhaps, in their difficult season, their outlook on life would’ve changed, even briefly, and the world would’ve been better for it.
A Scent of Hope –
In the summer our Lemongrass (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cymbopogon) come in many beautiful shades of green. They shoot up to the sky, ever so bent at the top, reaching heights of almost 6 feet. They are wonderful. If you break off a portion of the blades or are in the vicinity, you can smell the lemon. In the late fall, before winter, now, they turn a bland shade of brown, droop over and are unsightly. When they look like this it is time to trim them. What once was a gorgeous herb is now kindle for the fire.
One of my chores today included trimming the Lemongrass in front of our backyard wood fence so Beth can hang her garland for the Christmas season. As I grabbed each plant near the ground and cut away at the dying, dead herbs my mind and spirit filled with thoughts of the summer, my favorite season. Once I had finished I raked all the brown blades into a pile and set it ablaze.
As I stood there, watching the flames grow higher a familiar scent filled the air. It was the lemon from the Lemongrass burning. I inhaled and was both brought back to the summer now gone and the summer to come.
Wisdom tells us that there are seasons of life which we enjoy basking in the warmth and the light. We are blessed and receive the gifts which come with open heart and open hand. Wisdom also teaches that no season of life lasts. Everything is in transition. All things which come, go. Sooner or later we find ourselves in a dry, cold season. The blessings and gifts are but memories. We watch as what we held dear burns in the flames of adversity and find ourselves digging through the ash after trials by fire have done their worst.
It is then, if we are mindful, centered, focused on the truth that this too will pass, the scent of a new season will fill our spirits with the hope of tomorrow.
Bucket Life –
Most of the day I worked on our “extend and screen in” the porch project. At one point I stopped and went to my workshop to get a tool and a movement caught my eye. I looked down and in a 5 gallon bucket, with a small amount of rain water, was a frog. It was startled by me and began swimming in circles. I wondered how he got into the tall bucket and how long he had been there. I looked for a small canister to scoop him into and free him from spending his short life going round and round with no end in sight. I found a little cup and tried to capture it but the frog was not thrilled with the idea. He kept swimming and it’s not possible to corner something in a cylindrical container. Finally I got it, took it outside and set it free. I even yelled, as it hopped away; “Watch out for the snakes!”
I’ve thought about that frog off and on as I worked today. Life and its cycles can feel endless sometimes. We aren’t sure how we became trapped in a cycle of negativity, tragedy, bad luck, trials and tribulations, mishaps and mistakes, but it seems no matter what we do we can’t break free. Our misfortune and affliction keeps going and going and going.
Wisdom tells us to remember that nothing lasts forever. Not good or bad, blessings or curses, windfalls or downfalls, they all have a limited shelf life. Unfortunately we don’t possess the ability to gauge how long each season will last. However, what we can do is hope, look for a way out, don’t fight when help comes and be thankful for freedom when it arrives.
April showers might bring May flowers but very little rain in May might not be a good sign for the rest of the summer.
Yesterday evening the Mrs. and I were outside looking at the skies hoping for rain. It was cloudy, gray and looked promising. As we watched it began to rain on a field across the street. We stood and watched the rain so tantalizingly close but seemingly not moving our way. “Come on!” I yelled, not sure if rain had ears but willing to take a chance. After what felt like forever the drops of rain began to move across the field and toward our house. Slowly, steadily we watched it soak the street, the driveway and then it began pouring all over the yard. It was wonderful! (If I had known yelling at rain would make it come to me, I’d have done it sooner.)
Life can be this way at times. We enter a season of dryness when our spirits and emotions are barren. We search for renewal and restoration and may even feel they are incredibly close but nothing seems to happen. We shout at the heavens pleading for the rejuvenation we so desperately need. Wisdom teaches us that in time, and on time, revitalization will come. It cannot be forced or coerced but if we are willing to accept, what is beyond our power to control, we will be strengthened and enlightened when the moment and our path are in sync with our need.
On my way to the office this morning I ended up behind an elderly woman who was driving slow, really slow. We were on a two-way road with no passing lanes and though I was in a hurry she was not. 35 MPH in a 45 MPH was her chosen speed as we ambled down the road. We approached a major intersection, the traffic light was green and I anticipated getting through it in time. However, the creeping driver decelerated and the light turned red. Argh! To add insult to injury the woman navigated into a turning lane and instantly received a green arrow. “Sigh.” I watched her continue on her way as I just sat there.
After an exaggerated, exasperated, exhaled breath, I inhaled deeply and was reminded that we have little choice over the pace of life. Our journey has its own timing and unfolds incrementally, one stage, one season at a time. Wisdom teaches us to accept life’s speed and our powerlessness to make it go faster or slower.
I haven’t gotten used to winter. The trees and flowers hibernating, the greys and browns, the cloudy skies and shortened days. The temps today we’re spring like, almost 70 degrees, but the blossoms, warm breezes and sights and sounds of Earth being reborn were missing. I fight the urge each year not to find a cave and sleep away this dreaded season. I do my best to remember each season has a purpose, a rhythm, a lesson to learn, a way of growing me.
Wisdom tells me that all times of life are precious, even those we’d rather rush through or zone out until it passes. So, I take breath, look for the light each day, each season brings and try to be thankful for them all.