As I’m writing this (a couple weeks before it will post), I’m looking out my window to the view of redbud trees and wisteria in bloom. The world is covered in that fresh, new, bright, lush green of spring. And, yes, the cars are coated in a lovely yellow-green dusting of pollen. Despite the runny nose brought on by that last one, spring is my favorite season. I love all the new life, the blooms, the color reemerging after a long, bleak winter.
And to make it even better, we’re in the Easter season. Oh, you might be frowning and saying, “Um…it’s May. Easter was WEEKS ago!” and that would be true, even from when I’m writing this. But it’s also not. Because the Easter season lasts until Pentecost, fifty days later. We’re still in it. If you listen to the Liturgy of the Hours, you can tell it by the victorious “Allelujah!” that follows every line. You can tell it by the victorious Scriptures, all focused on Christ’s new life and, hence, ours. On the works of the Apostles in those first days. On the Church that sprang from that empty tomb.
I’ve always loved Easter, so stretching it out like this…it speaks to my heart. I brings me joy. It settles my spirit. It’s also, this year, made me think.
If I were to go around town now, I daresay most of the Easter decorations would be down, much like Christmas ones come down by or after New Years. Those same decorations were up weeks before the day. I’m not judging that. I love to see seasonal decorations! But it made me think, as I saw “He Is Risen!” signs more than a week before Easter. It’s true, of course–we live in the world where He is risen, praise God Almighty! But when I saw that sign this year, I was still in the penitential season of Lent. I was still focusing on the trials and tribulations He underwent, on the literal trial that led to His death. I was, in fact, about to spend an entire Friday fasting and praying and remembering the day when a crown of thorns was placed on His head, stripes were lashed into His back, and He was nailed to a cross.
He is risen…but He wasn’t. Not yet. He was still about to die. And the thing I love about all these liturgical seasons is that they invite us to dwell there, with Him and with the world, for a while. In Advent, we put ourselves in the position of a world without a Savior and yearn for His coming, prepare our hearts for His coming. Then there’s Christmas! Praise God, the Savior has arrived! And we rejoice in it not just for a day, not even just for twelve, but all the way until the Baptism of Our Lord, which is at the end of January.
Anticipation…and then dwelling.
The same things happens with Easter. We anticipate what He suffered, we suffer it with Him, because He told us to. He told us to take up our crosses and follow Him. And we do. Every day, yes, but every year, in its season. We walk with Him through His ministry, up to His final days, and we weep with the world as our Savior dies…so that we can REJOICE when He lives again! That rejoicing is HUGE, my friends! So huge it can’t be contained in a day. Not in a week. It needs FIFTY days, and we are still in those. We are still in a season of rejoicing. We are still in the spiritual Spring, when new life has come upon us!
This year, that’s especially poignant for me…because we’re in a new season in our family too. Our oldest, Xoe, is going off to college this fall. This past year was one of finding schools that appealed to her, putting in applications, making visits, getting acceptances…and then making decisions. In a few short months, we’ll be driving our girl to Annapolis and leaving her there. She’ll be starting the transition to full adulthood, taking care of herself, deciding who she wants to be for the rest of her life. And we’ll be deciding the same, in a way. Because in a few short years, her brother will be this age too. And then we’ll be empty nesters, still in our mid-forties. A lot of life still ahead of us, God willing.
The beauty of the changing seasons is that they bring new opportunities, they bring new life, new growth. They also bring times of drought or flood, times of death and dormancy. All in life isn’t redbud blooms and wisteria blossoms…but it isn’t all frozen puddles and brown leaves, either. Life is ever-changing, and enjoying each season–or at least learning from it and growing stronger through it–is what it’s all about.
It’s what the Church teaches me in its cycles–that there are days of self-examination. Days of penitence. Days of anticipation. Days of expectation. There are days of victory. Days of joy. Days of singing and dancing and crying out “Allelujah!” all day long. There are days of learning. Days of teaching. Days of victory and of defeat.
Some of them are going to be hard. Some easy. All designed by our Creator to shape us into people worthy of following after Him.
Spring is going to give way to summer, summer will wane long, Xoe will go off to college, our household will change. Easter will turn to Pentecost, Pentecost will fall into the routine of Ordinary Time, Ordinary Time will eventually lead us back to Advent. The cycle will continue, life will move onward.
We need to recognize the seasons we’re in in life, just as we do in nature. Make sure we’re “dressed” right. That we’re planning our days and setting our expectations accordingly. We need to examine our surroundings, our hearts, our goals. We need to know when to anticipate…and when to dwell in the being of a thing. We need to know when to move forward and when to linger where we are.
And when we do that, we’ll find the beauty in each season. The joy underscoring the sorrow. We’ll feel the pain and the sting and the sorrow…but we’ll know it’s for a purpose. That each seed that falls to the ground is there to spring up again. Every goodbye is also a hello. Every chapter ended is one begun.
Live in the season you’re in. Don’t be looking always to the next–don’t be wishing you were still in what’s behind. Be here. Be now. Be who God wants you to be today.