Cycles of seasons compose our lives. Each season has its cycle, its beginning, its end. Each group of seasons is composed of seasons of rest, of productivity, of beauty, of silence. This cycle of seasons is there for all to observe, but we ignore what is before us to pursue what “should be”.
In the garden, at the end of the season of productivity, we put our plants to bed. We prune them, we compost them, we tidy up loose ends, we get them ready for the weather to come. Over the winter we plan for the future, we contemplate what worked, what didn’t, what we were missing, what went wrong. In life, we deny ourselves this space for setting our lives up anew. We deny ourselves our rest.
It is a very American thing, to try to deny the cycle, or to jump from one to the other, with no space between for contemplation, for tidying up, for learning. But Americans worship at the altar of eternal youth, so it’s only natural that we deny the times between, they are too strong a marker of age. Americans worship at the altar of productivity, and taking time to learn and become wise, to rest and reset, feels lazy. Worthless. We deny the cycle of seasons because we don’t want to come to the seasons of rest.
As I wind up a cycle of seasons in my life, it is time to rest. To reflect. Autumns are busy times, when we rush here and there to harvest all that we have produced. We are busy preparing for the winter ahead, storing things away. In this busy-ness, in this focus on harvest, we can lose our way in other areas of life. That is the nature of Autumn. Denying any season its essence denies the cycle of seasons its power. In autumn, you’re too busy. It’s a good busy. But were autumn to last forever, you’d burn out. Winter is necessary.
And so for myself. What have I lost sight of? What do I need to reintegrate into my life?
I could rush past this season, deny my deep need for rest, for restoration. I could rush past the knowledge that next spring in the garden will look very different, and there are changes to be made in the structure of my life and in my heart.
So, what is Winter in the cycle of seasons? Early winter is a time of celebration and rest. We are celebrating the end of an era this week. After the celebration, we will take time to rest. Some of us have bodies in need of restoration, and all of us have frazzled spirits. Rest allows for repair. This time of rest is a good time to record what went well, what went poorly.
Late winter is the time of planning, and preparation. What shall I add to life, what shall I take away? Do I need to plant more potatoes, or fewer cucumbers? What’s coming up in my next cycle of seasons? Is this year supposed to be dry, or wet, or am I adding other things to life that will take time and energy away from the pursuits of the last seasons?
Soon enough Spring will come, new missions will be planted, we will work from dawn ’til dusk and celebrate each new leaf. But now, in this cycle of seasons, it is winter, and it is time to rest.
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