“A person’s character and their garden both reflect the amount of weeding that was done during the growing season.” Author Unknown
Spring is here. Her subtle signs are everywhere. In South Africa we celebrate spring on the 1st of September, which doesn’t always link exactly with the solstice, but who cares. We are just happy to celebrate the birth of spring. The green seems a bit greener than it was yesterday. The winter chill seems to have lost its edge. We are hearing the tweet of birds long silent and the days seems to be tangibly getting longer, actively fighting to block out the night. I love spring. It is a time of hope and optimism. It is the start of the end of the dark and the cold. As Robin Williams puts it, “spring is nature’s way of saying, “Let’s party!”
For me in my life, like the weather season, it feels like spring. There are a lot of things I am feeling excited about. The winter seemed to start early and stayed too long, but as Hal Borland said, “No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.” In many ways I have had to work harder on finding ways to bring winter to an end, yet after pushing through and maintaining optimism and a positive attitude, the genuine signs of spring are here. Yet as I encounter various people in my daily life, some are working through very different seasons to me. Just recently I have found some people going through the sorrow of winter, having lost a loved one, felt the financial pinch or enduring a long dry creative spell. I met someone else going through autumn, a time of serious reflection and contemplation, looking for answers as which road to take next on their journey. And of course there are the summer ones, celebrating the best of life during the all too brief mountaintop experiences; the birth of a child, the amazing holiday, the financial windfall or falling in love.
One thing we know about these seasons in our lives is that, like in nature, they all end and new seasons or transitions start. The process doesn’t stop. Life is a journey through the seasons. Have you ever wished for only spring and summer? Have you longed for exclusion from the autumn and winter process? Well, that wish isn’t likely to be granted.
Jim Rohn said, “Life is about constant, predictable patterns of change. For the six thousand years of recorded history, as humans have entered this world, received parental instruction, classroom instruction, and gathered the experience of life; many have set for themselves ambitious goals, and dreamed lofty dreams. As the wheel of life continues its constant turning, all human emotions appear, disappear, and appear once again. A major challenge faced by us all is that we must learn to experience the changing of life’s cycles without being changed by them; to make a constant and conscious effort to improve ourselves in the face of changing circumstances.”
The question, “Which is the happiest season of life?” was asked of an aged man. And he replied: “When spring comes, and in the soft air the buds are breaking on the trees, and they are covered with blossoms, I think, ‘How beautiful is spring’; and when summer comes and covers the trees with its heavy foliage, and singing birds are among the branches, I think, ‘How beautiful is summer.’ When autumn loads them with golden fruit, and their leaves bear the gorgeous tint of frost, I think, ‘How beautiful is autumn.’ And when it is severe winter, and there is neither foliage nor fruit, then I look up through the leafless branches as I never could until now, and see the stars shine in God’s home.
Isn’t it true that whatever season we are in we seem to assume everyone else knows it and how we judge others as if they are in the same season? It is quite tough to appreciate someone else’s summer when you are in winter.
There was a man who had four sons. He wanted his sons to learn not to judge things too quickly. So he sent them each on a quest, in turn, to go and look at a pear tree that was a great distance away. The first son went in the winter, the second in the spring, the third in summer and the fourth son in the autumn. When they had all gone and come back, he called them together to describe what they had seen. The first son said that the tree was ugly, bent and twisted. The second son said no it was covered with green buds and full of promise. The third son disagreed; he said it was laden with blossoms that smelled so sweet and looked so beautiful; it was the most graceful thing he had ever seen. The last son disagreed with all of them; he said it was ripe and drooping with fruit, full of life and fulfillment. The man then explained to his sons that they were all right, because they had each seen but only one season in the tree’s life. He told them that you cannot judge a tree, or a person, by only one season and that the essence of who they are and the pleasure, joy and love that come from that life can only be measured at the end, when all seasons are up. If you give up when it’s winter, you will miss the promise of your spring, the beauty of your summer and the fulfillment of your autumn.
What season of life are you in? Are you experiencing a winter of discouragement blowing like an icy wind through your soul? Or do you feel the exuberance of spring renewal, the lazy warmth of summer rest? Perhaps the winds of change have brought an autumn of reflection in your heart. Whichever it is, recognize that each season has a distinct and meaningful role to play in our lives. Artur Rubinstein, the great concert pianist said,
“The seasons are what a symphony ought to be: four perfect movements in harmony with each other.”
The key is to recognize the season we are in, not to fight it, but to benefit from the lessons and potential growth that goes with it. It doesn’t help complaining or wishing this season away. Instead I need to choose the right attitude that takes me through and helps to shape me into the person I was created to be.
Jim Rohn said, “You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of.”
This I am sure of, spring comes after winter and summer will come again too. I am right now excited to experience the freshness and newness of spring. I can’t help but wake up with a sense of expectation. For those not experiencing springtime, take comfort in the words of Sarah Ban Breathnach.
She said, “Expect to have hope rekindled. Expect your prayers to be answered in wondrous ways. The dry seasons in life do not last. The spring rains will come again.”
Have a wonderful week
If you have any questions or feedback about “Seasons” please email me firstname.lastname@example.org, I would love to hear from you.
Antony Jennings is an international trainer, consultant and motivational speaker based in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Antony writes this free weekly mentoring letter to support and encourage those who are serious about taking charge of their lives. You will find an archive of his letters at www.antonyjennings.com or www.zifundise.com
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