The Four Seasons
I would be less than truthful if I said I did not enjoy living in Southern California and particularly living in San Diego. The weather and the close proximity to the beach, the mountains, and the desert make this a spectacular place to live. And I haven't even mentioned the lack of bugs, pests or flying insects. Having acknowledged all that, I do believe that living in Southern California has been a detriment to my Christian experience and maturing in Christ. I have been robbed of the God-given spiritual lessons that flow naturally from the changing of the seasons.
I am being serious. I believe the changing of the seasons is one of the greatest metaphors for the Christian life. The analogy of the seasons can bring hope in times of despair, promises of newness of life in the midst of desolation, and reminders of bounty in times of want. Since I have always lived in Southern California I have never had the opportunity to experience the bleakness of winter, the messy thawing of spring and its subsequent blooming of beauty, the warm days and balmy evenings of summer, nor the breathtaking magnificence of fall before winter exerts itself once again. I have lost out on the profoundly spiritual lessons that each of the seasons have to teach me.
As a result, I do not have a sense of the rhythm of life that is so richly displayed and entrenched in creation and its seasons. I lack an internalized sense of the outward manifestation of the ebb and flow and dynamic nature of life – the life of creation as well as the spiritual life.
Instead, I am a victim of my surroundings. I have come to believe that every day of the spiritual life is going to be between 70°and 80°, with a light wind coming from the west, and will be virtually bug free. However, this has not been the case in my life nor in the lives of many with whom I have journeyed in Southern California over the past few decades. The sunny days of the spiritual life give way to cold harsh stiff breezes, spiritual whiteouts and messy preparations for growth. Oftentimes we can feel undone by these seemingly exceptional events, for it never rains in Southern California.
I feel cheated by God and stunted in my growth as a Christian because God has chosen to place me in a land without seasons, a place of unchanging climate. A part of me longs to live through a cycle of the seasons; to experience the harsh, deadness of winter, the surprising beauty of spring, the long sun drenched days of summer, and the splendor along with the starkness of fall. I want to live the rhythm of the seasons so I can intuitively know that in winter, though some things die, much is merely dormant and will resurrect in due time. I want to know first hand that spring is a very messy experience at first but then the flowers bloom and messiness turns to unspeakable beauty. I want to know summer as a time of harvest, a time to enjoy the long days of sunlight. And I want to experience fall as a time to enjoy and drink in nature’s exquisiteness as well as a time to gather and prepare for the approaching winter. I want to know by experience that each season doesn’t have the last word but rather is a stop along the way to growth and newness of life. I want to know, by the experience of the seasons, the unchanging truth that this too shall pass. I want to learn to find God and experience God in each season, to know God as the God of winter, spring, summer and fall.
But whom am I really kidding? A winter spent in South Dakota or on the shores of Chicago would probably kill me. I am used to wearing sandals all year round. I read books while sitting on the beach dressed in a t-shirt and shorts in the dead of winter. I guess I really wouldn’t want to spend the winter somewhere else (though I do want to see a New England fall). Although I think there is much to learn from the seasons, I do not think I will ever experience a cycle of seasons nor at some level do I truly want to. Come to think of it, I don’t even own a coat, boots or a scarf.
I guess each of us have our obstacles to overcome when it comes to our life with Christ. For me, one such obstacle is being seasonally challenged. I will have to learn the valuable lessons of the seasons in another way. For whatever reason, God in His infinite wisdom has placed me in Southern California so I will seek to bloom where I am planted, which isn’t hard when it is sunny, between 70° and 80° everyday, there is a light wind coming from the west and virtually no bugs.
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