This Too Shall Pass…Spiritual Seasons
Turn, turn, turn….
“All the rivers flow into the sea,
Yet the sea is not full.
To the place where the rivers flow,
There they flow again.” (Ecclesiastes 1:7)
Fall is here and for those of us living in areas that actually have seasons (I lived in So. Cal. For ten years, boy did I miss seasons) leaves are beginning to turn different colors and the air is starting to get that little nip to it that makes wearing a sweater necessary. It’s a time for seasonal depression to start, it’s a time for holidays and get-togethers, it’s a time for weight gain and eggnog. But all of this will eventually go away and springtime will burst forth with its own colors and smells. I thought about this while driving to a friend’s house tonight. I thought about the natural cycle of things and how there are ups and downs, peaks and valleys in our everyday lives and in our own spiritual walks.
It seems as though for every spiritual day there is a spiritual night. For every spiritual insight there is a spiritual plateau. For every great conversation you and God seem to have there are also times of paralyzing silence. Why is this? Why do we have our ups and downs? Often times it seems that our spiritual timing coincides with what is currently happening in our lives. We lose a job or a loved one, our relationship with God becomes cold and distant. We find a soul-mate or accomplish something we’ve been trying hard for and we get back on a spiritual kick.
So often we hear about balance, we hear about maintaining that relationship with God through all the thicks-and-thins. Easier said than done is what I say. Things would be so much simpler if we knew when the highs and lows were coming. Situations would be easier to handle if we knew when they were going to be over. But it’s all a part of the cycle of life. As much as we know the sun will rise, we know it must also set. For every mountain we climb up we know we are also going to have to eventually climb down.
Every time I hear someone say look on the bright side, I want to say, “I wouldn’t know there was a bright side without the dark side.” In the Psalms we find great examples of things like this. Psalm 37 for example has David reassuring us that the evil men like green grass will soon whither away and that God will vindicate. Then there is Psalm 5 where David is crying out for God’s help, pleading with God to come to his aid, as if God had been silent. And of course we have the penultimate Psalm 88, with no God in sight, no prayer being answered, no help on its way, merely darkness and silence.
Is it so bad that we have our spiritual seasons? I don’t think so. Without the death of Fall and Winter there would be no new life of Spring and Summer. Without the possibility of loss we could never truly appreciate that which we’ve gained. I have to think that without the spiritual down times, there wouldn’t be much spiritual growth. Sometimes it’s even God who calls us out into the darkness. The sad thing is, we don’t know when it will be our turn, we don’t know why it is happening, we don’t know when it will end and we definitely don’t know how we are going to react.
Qoheleth teaches us that there is a time for everything: to tear down and build, to tear and mend, to mourn and dance. What will I do the next time I need to tear down? How will I react when it is time for me to mourn? Will I be able to build again? Will I be able to dance again? At the time it is happening I’m almost always sure that there will never be a good that comes out of the bad. But it’s always in those times that I find the new materials to build something even better, it’s always in that down time that I find new ways to express myself in my dance of life. It also helps me to prepare for the next time the seasons begin to change.
* I know that I published this a year ago but I did want to add this: A lot of people are finding there way to this post by looking for “This too shall pass” and where they might find it in the bible. I hate to burst your bubble but that phrase cannot be found in the bible. I know it sounds like it should but it doesn’t, it’s like the phrase, “God helps those who help themselves.” You hear it used so much that you begin to think that it is actually scriptural, yet, it is not.