Milestones are something I appreciate. They aren’t always good milestones but they are markers which often help me rebalance and refocus.
Recently, we hit the milestone of a year in our new home. A new job. A new season of life.
One year on, I can’t help looking back whilst we begin looking forward to Christmas and enjoy the season of Advent.
To say the transition and change was difficult would be an understatement. I can’t believe it took me well into my thirties to twig that I really do not handle change particularly well. I want to think of myself as an easy-going, roll-with-it kinda gal who meanders through life with an enviable serenity.
That is not my reality.
I am a lie on the bed sobbing/hunker down until all the change has passed and I can emerge like a grizzly bear from hibernation kinda gal.
One thing that I have loved this year is setting up a little study for myself. I have a desk by a window and my initial thoughts were that I would be so inspired by looking out the window that my writing would increase immeasurably. I have really enjoyed looking out of that window but sadly, the writing didn’t seem to take off.
But, oh boy, my window is something else.
I can sit and look at the trees all day. And the variety of people passing by. As an avid people watcher, my lofty vantage point is perfect for me.
The trees have been my perfect companions in this phase of life. What better way to embrace change then to watch the physical transformation of nature?
The seasonal changes always remind me of this passage form Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 –
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
Then I wonder, what season of life am I in? What time am I experiencing right now?
Am I in a season of Autumn?
The change of colours are so stark and stunning. They catch your eye and provide a vividness to the increasingly darker days. But they are fleeting. They fall to the ground pretty swiftly. A gentle breeze can leave the branches bare and the body of the tree exposed.
I can relate to that season. We began our fertility investigations at the end of summer/beginning of Autumn. There was a starkness to that time. We were going to know what was wrong and fix it. But the breeze was fierce and azoospermia shook the leaves off and exposed us and made us feel very vulnerable.
I think our Autumn was one of shedding the dreams and hopes we had carried with us. We had no choice but to let them fall.
Is this my own Winter?
For some, they struggle through Winter. They find the bitter cold and empty trees too harsh. They long for Spring and move through Winter with a weariness.
I’m not sure how I feel about Winter. At its best, with a blanket of snow and blue skies, it can feel magical. The reality is that we can’t get to Spring without Winter. Nature guides us into a time of rest. A time when we cannot see the growth and preparation taking place but it is.
I look at the tree outside my window now and all its leaves are gone. The vivid oranges, reds and browns have fallen to the floor. I see the intricacy of the branches and the strength of the trunk. It is completely exposed. Nothing is now hidden.
That is the Winter I know. When we knew our diagnosis and that our steps towards becoming parents would need to look different, we had shed the old dreams and needed to prepare for new ones.
We probably looked very vulnerable. We opened our story and hearts up to others.
We may have looked barren but much, much more was going on.
You cannot get to Spring without Winter. You cannot return to joy without grieving your loss.
If anything has changed in my life through our infertility, it is that I have moved from a Spring/Summer preference to an Autumn/Winter fan. It is in the shedding and resting that I could begin to grow. In my own Winter, I made space to figure out what I needed to let go of. This was painful but necessary. Are you in your own season of winter? Do you need to stop? Rest. Let go of something or someone?
Spring is coming. Slowly, something shifts. We notice a first bud appearing. Greenery begins to pop up. Signs that something new is on the horizon. There is expectation and anticipation of when nature will burst into full bloom.
Spring was when we started to begin new things. We began to plan again. New adventures. New opportunities. This new life was ours. We were awakening to the call that there is more. More goodness. More dreams. More than just one route to a full life.
Spring ignites something in my soul. I look up more. I want to spot the buds opening and the first petals being revealed.
Perhaps you are entering your Springtime. You are starting to feel the buds of hope unfurling. Are you beginning to look up again? What new dreams are you tentatively having?
Those gentle dreams that begin in Spring will flourish in Summer. The full spectrum of colours and variety will be on show. Nature can lifts our spirits with its outrageous beauty. But, we know, it will be fleeting. The scorching sun can dry out the land if we do not water it. Flowers will bloom and die. Ready to begin the cycle and preparation for Autumn.
I think Summer can sometimes be obnoxious. Living in London, travelling on the tube in the summer, I can definitely not enjoy this season. It can feel too much. Overwhelming. I need to find my shade and comfortable places. Summer can also feel like a celebration. The long days. The relaxation of al fresco dining and the small window of BBQ season.
Maybe you’ve reached your Summer. You’re seeing the new dreams you had come to fruition. You are in celebration mode. Or perhaps, you’ve reached the summer and you feel scorched and burned by the process of getting there. It feels too much. You are eager to find some shade and rest.
Whichever season we find ourselves in, rest assured that this too shall pass. Whether it is a season we are enjoying or dreading. Surviving or flourishing. We know that it will pass. Not always to the timescale we would like but we will enter a new season soon.
Take time today to consider which season you are in. How do you feel about this season of life? What are you being prepared for?
This Advent, my prayer for you in whatever season you are in is that you will experience the peace and presence of God in the midst of it all.
O come, O come, Emmanuel!