“In those days, though, spring always came finally but it was frightening that it had nearly failed.” Ernest Hemmingway A Moveable Feast
We all go through seasons. Right now my children are going through seasons of excitement, of learning, a time when everything they experience is new and thrilling. I have some friends at retirement age who experience a time of contentment and ease right now; a time when life offers just enough leisure to allow a person to enjoy the moments. I know others who are in times that feel unsettled. Great longings seem to go unnoticed; at the very least unanswered by a God who seems, if not removed, uninterested in the desires of their hearts.
I also know those who endure pain in the moment to moment way of persons who know great loss. These are souls in suffering. Hearts in turmoil. They wait in desperation for a spring that seems to “nearly fail”.
I guess we’ve all experienced seasons like that haven’t we? We wait and we hope for things to get better. Do we believe it will? Yes, I suppose as those who’ve become a new creation we do.
I was reading A Moveable Feast tonight and became engulfed in Hemmingway’s description of Paris in the last depths of a long, hard, winter ; when there settled over the city a near panic that the desolation of the season wouldn’t end. He describes that time as a time when “it would seem you were losing a season of your life”. As I slid my bookmark into place I began to wonder… “ Is it possible that there are times when the sorrow, or the fear; the pain or the great loneliness is not merely the passage of a season but also the loss of one?
Can a person lose out on the experience of one season because they cannot see outside of the experience of another?
During the time that followed the tragic death of my son I most certainly seem to have lost a season. So many things went on. The world kept spinning in a way that seemed almost to mock me as it said “Surely daytime and night… summer and winter will never cease.” Yet I ceased to experience them. For me I suppose there was a very real sense of missing a season of my life…in favor of… or at least in deference to another one.
Tonight, with Hemmingway’s thoughts on Paris still fresh in my mind, I read through the caring bridge sites of loved ones and a new light began to dawn. What if the season we miss out on becomes the defining season in the lives of those we love? What if Friend A’s son’s difficult diagnosis becomes her other son’s defining season in that he learns compassion and understanding first hand? What if friend B’s son’s limited life expectancy and profound disabilities become her other children’s defining seasons in which they learn to lean hard on Hope? What if Friend C’s husbands struggle with sudden and terminal cancer becomes her daughter’s defining season? The one in which they come to know a God who truly is a Father in every practical sense of the word?
Do we all miss out on seasons? Yes. Depression, loss, financial ruin, crisis’ of faith, anger, resentment, pain, sorrow, even unfounded bliss do cause some of us at one time or another to be removed from life.
God seems to have intended a purpose for these times when we cannot connect; when we’re so busy with the work of making new pathways of connection. It would appear that He intends for our absence to be a defining moment for someone else. Most often for someone we love. A season they need to experience. A time that will build in them an essential aspect of their character; an aspect that they will share with the world… and that is needed.
It was a moment of clarity to realize that as I read the journal updates. So easy to see when you’re not encumbered with mommy guilt. When you can just see things as they stand in someone else’s life.
If I can see this amazing and beautiful truth in their lives… surely… it stands to reason… that it would be true in mine…. and yours.
Spring did come for me after Tristan died, but not without the sense that I had lost a season. And my kids, my family and my friends may have missed me for a bit but they were being tended to by a God who held all our seasons in the palm of His hand. A God who was intent and purposeful about those moments with them.
There were so many times I wanted to cry out and ask God to just stop the world for a while so that I could go about the business of grieving and not miss out or feel pulled back toward life being lived. But the seasons just kept coming. And somewhere between the falling of the leaves and the piling of the snow there came a peace in knowing that spring too would eventually dawn … and that I would be there to experience it.