I have been observing the large red maple in my front yard shedding its leaves. Around the campus neighborhood, there are yellow tints to many of the trees, and as the temperatures drop, it’s clear that autumn is here.
After five years in Austin, Texas, where there’s really no winter to speak of, it’s refreshing to return to a place with actual seasons. In central Texas the foliage shifts from dull green to dull brown, with very little display of color. Temperatures almost never dropped below 50º, but when the mercury hit the 60’s, folks would break out their furs and puffy coats. Paradoxically these “winter” adaptations were often not accompanied with the resort to long pants, at least among many undergraduates.
All of this has me thinking about seasons, and the circular yet progressive flow of time and events. Many of my evangelical friends talk about the “seasons” of life that they’re in, which helpfully frames the current moments— good, bad, easy, difficult, whatever— as temporary. They speak of seasons of celebration, seasons of grief, seasons of mellowing out and hunkering down. And of course, seasons of pandemic.
For me, this is a season of building: building new relationships, building community, building a renewed campus ministry program, rebuilding the Chaplains Office. Framing these projects as a season of building helps me remember that everything doesn’t— can’t— happen at once, and the things that are challenging or frustrating will, in God’s times and seasons, be easier next season. In the mean time, it’s important to also enjoy the blessings of this moment, this season.
There is an appointed time for everything,
and a time for every affair under the heavens.
a time to give birth, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant.
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 be far from embraces.
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to be silent, and a time to speak.
A time to love, and a time to hate;
a time of war, and a time of peace.
– Ecclesiastes 3