On moving with grace through the changes and transitions of life.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. Ecclesiastes 3:1
Maybe it’s my religious upbringing but I’ve always cringed a little when people talk to me about different seasons in their lives. It seems so cliché. But lately I’ve been using this type of language more regularly when I speak with my clients, and I have been realizing just how valuable the concept is when explaining or understanding the changes that happen in our lives. It just came up again today in one of my sessions with a client.
This client has been going through immense shifts in her life—I’m talking about the big stuff. Big questions about purpose fueled by an extremely hostile work environment and questions regarding the function of relationships in her life. It’s been heavy this last year or so and sometimes it feels like she can’t catch a break. These difficult moments have ebbed and flowed, but there seems to always be something significant she is weathering. And so today we spoke about seasons in life. Different periods of time that come and go like the seasons. At first, as I spoke about it with her, I began to feel a little silly—a little cliché. Yet, as I continued to share about the nuances of this idea it became clear that we talk about the seasons of life because it really is such a great metaphor for what is occurring as things shift and change.
So why is this such an effective metaphor for the changes and transitions of life? Well I imagine you can figure some of that out on your own—it’s pretty obvious. But I’d like to develop a few ideas here in this journal entry.
Now I’ve lived in places with four distinct seasons, but while in Hawaii, there were essentially two and the seasonal shifts might not be as noticeable to someone who hasn’t lived there their entire life. I guess I bring this up because it seems to me that life presents us with some seriously obvious seasonal shifts. You know those ones that don’t come easily; birth, death, job loss, a sudden relationship break. Yes, sometimes we may have some warning regarding these changes, but more often than not we really have no idea what we are in for until they smack us in the face.
Last night I spoke with a good friend who just had a new baby. She shared about how she really wished someone would have told her just how abrupt some of the changes are when she brought her new baby home. Here she was thinking the delivery would be the hardest part, yet, really the emotional ups and downs plus the overwhelm of navigating motherhood was way more shocking in just the first month. It’s a perfect example of those seasonal shifts that tend to be really clear.
However, when they sneak up on you a little more, I think more of the seasonal shifts in Hawaii, they aren’t as noticeable. I think of moments in our life when we realize we have grown in some way but can’t quite pinpoint exactly how it happened. For me it has been changes in my viewpoint, for example, starting to notice that I am paying less attention to what other people think of me and feeling more secure in myself and my own authentic path. Or after years of learning to manage my own anxiety in a multitude of different ways, am able to see myself flow with the ups and downs of life with more ease. Maybe the turbulence doesn’t phase me quite like it use to. Have you seen these seasonal shifts in your life too?
Another beauty within this metaphor is how novelists, poets and, in general, literary artists have used seasons to describe the transitions in our lives. Let me point out a few beautiful ones.
Nothing Goal Can Stay
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank in grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
Here Robert Frost speaks of how fleeting life can be and maybe more specifically recognizes how beauty will always fade. He so accurately shows in this poem that things are constantly changing. The flowers that blossoms in the spring will always produce the next stage of the process. Things are constantly changing and growing—and yes, there needs to be some death in order for new life to emerge. We often forget this. More than that, if we can learn to align ourselves with the ever-changing seasonal shifts, we may embrace a more relaxed approach to our lives. Rather than constantly fighting the shifts and changes; allowing them—observing them—showing reverence for the endings, which may require some grief and mourning, before we enter into the new season.
We often want to rush to the beginning of the next phase. After all it is exciting and new, yet when we don’t hold space in reverence for what has transpired in the last season of life we miss out on fully appreciating and understanding what we experienced. Sometimes the universe slows us down so we can fully take in all that has happened. This can exhibit itself in exhaustion or lack of motivation. Sometimes when we need rest it can be because we are rushing too quickly to the next thing, and we really just need to slow down and take stock of all that has happened.
If we are constantly itching to get to the next moment, we will miss out not only on the present but also the lessons behind our experiences. I think Henry David Thoreau says it nicely in his Journal 6 June 1857:
Each season is but an infinitesimal point. It no sooner comes than it is gone.
Slow down, notice and allow the seasonal changes to occur as they will, we have no control on how quickly time passes but we can learn to appreciate it more as it goes by.
If you need some help slowing down and noticing the beauty of these changes, schedule a Connect Call today.