The black tree limbs are naked of leaves and their outline contrasts against the heavy gray skies. The gardens too are naked and the lawns have turned the dull green of an old wool shirt.
Another seasonal change is moving through, and winter is coming. Growing up in the Midwest I learned early about seasons and signs of change. The winds from the north bring us colder temperatures, but those from the southwest are warm, humid and have a potential for creating storms. We learn to recognize the differences in clouds and the kinds of storms, rain or snow, which develop from them relative to their direction and the time of year.
In Luke 12:54-56 we read of Jesus speaking to a crowd “When you see a cloud rising in the west…when you see the south wind blowing…You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky; but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?”
Most of us easily recognize the signs in nature that indicate movement in time, cycles and rhythms. But do we recognize similar signs in our spiritual life? Can we point to the cycles of faith in our present time and say “Yes, here again…this is Our Lord’s movement”?
There is the season of less light, when things seem dim. For those of us who live with depression, this season always returns and we are blessed with the opportunity to grow deeper in our faith. It is the time when I most arduously seek my Lord. It is the time when I know I am developing more fully my ability to find my way when hope seems distant.
During seasons of darkness comes rain, sometimes cold and persistent. The rain challenges me to willingly take in and draw up what is good. In nature everything depends on rain, or rather water. I think this is true of our souls as well. We cannot survive without the water of mercy that God sends to revive our soul.
We can learn something from the darkness. We grow stronger through our seeking God. We become a bit more grounded. With each passing season we develop strength not found the year before.
Once we have rested after the challenge of darkness and rain, storms and winds, we enter the next season of new growth. The development that took place in darkness now brings vitality for the next cycle of life.
We learn throughout our lives how to interpret Christ’s presence in it, much the same as knowing how to interpret the earth and sky. Through attentiveness and discernment we learn, and trust that one season will lead to another…a natural cycle to developing faith.