As summer clings for dear life in this hemisphere while autumn pushes through the womb of seasons I occasionally see a leaf, once vivid green, lose its verdant hue, revealing the color beneath (and reminding me that I need to start making sweaters for the winter). For those whose seasons change very subtly, if at all, because you live in the tropics, mourning the passage of summer may seem odd. It’s actually more like turning a page rather than mourning a loss.
As we turn the page of the book of seasons we find that we will soon start the chapter of autumn: children and young adults have gone back to school, teachers and professors are back at work, summer shorts and sandals give way to sweaters and long pants, and we start to eat the bounty of our summer gardens and orchards. Food is perhaps tastiest and least expensive at this time of year, since there is usually so much of it. I know one can get a watermelon in February, but do you really want to eat a watermelon in February, when it has to be picked somewhat underripe and transported hundreds or thousands of miles to your local supermarket? I usually follow the rule that if it’s tasty from the garden in August, it’ll be bland in the store in February.
While you’re turning the page on the book of seasons, consider for a moment the seasons of your life. Think about the loves of your life: did it feel like spring when you met your beloved even though the snow was two feet deep? When your first child was born or adopted was it like summer vacation as you learned to see life through the eyes of this new person? When your youngest child left home to go be an adult, did it feel like your life was entering its winter phase? When your grandparents went to Eternity did it seem like your young years were gone, shriveling like the last tomato vine of the season that finally gave up the ghost? Have you been trying to recapture those young years with surgery and hair dye, forgetting that during your actual young years you did some really dumb things but managed to live through them? When your parents went to Eternity, did you feel that you were next?
Like the seasons of the year, the seasons of your life are cyclical: you are reborn with every child you bring into the world or every child you bring into your life through adoption. When your children achieve certain milestones in their lives, whether it’s eating their first bite of solid food or cooking their first solid meal, you get to see the world through their eyes. Even if their eyes are watering because they thought that baking a cake at 700° Fahrenheit (if you “speak” Celsius, feel free to do your own conversion) would bake it in half the time and your kitchen is now smoky gray where it was once off-white, you can laugh as you and the child clean up the smoke smudges, remembering when you did the same thing to your stepmother’s kitchen.
With all the births in your life, there have to be some deaths: a divorce (or two), the loss of a job, the decline or death of a grandparent, a jail sentence, graduation from high school or college, the death of a pet, the first blizzard of the year. Know that death, too, is a chapter in the book of seasons; it can’t be summer all the time, but it also can’t be winter all the time, either. When the snow flies it eventually blankets everything in a coat of white, protecting some plants from the cold but also providing future water for the ground for springtime. With death there comes rebirth; as Jesus of Nazareth died on the cross, He promised a repentant sinner beside Him on another cross that he would be with Jesus in Paradise (let’s not forget that Jesus was crucified between two sinners), thus giving that sinner a chance to be reborn in Eternity rather than suffering in the Other Place. Every flower that dies releases seeds containing life, so nothing truly dies. We, too, are products of those who have died before us (in a removed-generation way), so no one really dies. Death doesn’t even have to mean physical discontinuance of life, for every transformation is a death of sorts. With each transformation we undergo we are reborn as new people (and, oh, yes, we must transform) with the knowledge that will guide us through each new stage of life.
Don’t be afraid to turn the page, for people who don’t turn the page and adapt might as well close the book, for they’ve died long before their last breaths.