Seasons Come; Seasons Go

Two years ago this month, I officially “landed” in Warsaw, New York. As a relative new-comer to this geographic area identified by its own acronym, WNY (a.k.a. western New York), I still marvel at the seasonal idiosyncrasies unique to this region.

For example, I thought that ice had only one color: clear. However, during the past wintry weeks, I have discovered that WNY features at least three hues of ice:
 —— white ice…as in the icicles that dangle like walrus tusks from my house roof;
 —— black ice…as in the shiny sheet atop the asphalt pavement just beyond my driveway;
 —— and grey ice…as in the sleek lacquer on the cement walkway from my front door to my mailbox.

During these same wintry weeks, I have even witnessed Mother Nature’s version of “dry ice”…when warm air (temperature: 65 degrees) meets snow-crusted ground (temperature: 25 degrees) and misty vapors rise from the landscape.

Here in WNY, the season of winter has made definitive statements with different colors, kinds and quantities of ice.

And, here in WNY, natives and local residents have made definitive statements about the ice-intensive winter: “I’m weary of winter!” and “I want winter to vanish!”

Sometimes we humans entrap ourselves by seasons and by seasonal elements. These seasons are indige- nous both to Mother Nature and to human nature. We define ourselves by seasons or by seasonal characteris- tics: “He is a snow bird” or “She is an ice princess.” We allow our life styles to be curtailed by literal blocks of ice or by icy attitudes. When we confine ourselves to our homes, we say we suffer “cabin fever.” When we confine ourselves to memory-prisons of fear or resentment, we say we suffer “an ice-cold heart.”

Sometimes we define ourselves by seasons and confine ourselves within seasons.

However, seasons come; seasons go.

There once lived a wise man who had four sons. This father wanted to caution his sons with this lesson: Do not judge others.

The father sent each of his four sons on a mission. To each son, he gave this instruction: “Go to the lone pear tree in the large field at the base of the stony mountain. Report back to me what you see.”

He sent the oldest son in winter. He sent the second-born son in spring. He sent third son in summer. He sent the fourth and youngest son in autumn.

Then, in the cold of winter, the father gathered his four sons together. He asked each of them, “What did you see?”

The oldest son answered, “I saw an ugly tree. It was barren and lifeless.”

The second son argued, “I saw a budding tree. It was ready to sprout new leaves.”

The third son reported, “I saw a blossoming tree. It was laden with sweet-smelling flowers.”

The youngest son insisted, “I saw a bountiful tree. It was holding bushels of ripe fruit.”

The father addressed all his sons, “Each of you is correct. Each of you saw the same tree. However, each

of you saw the tree at a different season of its life.”

The wise parent counseled his sons further, “Do not judge a tree, or a person, based on only one season of

life. A tree is a composite of many seasons. Similarly, a person can only be known at the end of his or her life…when all seasons of life have been lived.”

The father looked lovingly at his four sons and concluded with these words, “My dear sons, may each of you not give up on your own life…especially if you endure a harsh season, such as winter. Otherwise, you will miss the birth of spring, the vibrancy of summer and the abundance of autumn.”

*****

Likewise, may we read and receive these same words from the wise father.

Most of us are mindful of the various seasons described in Ecclesiastes 3:
 —— For everything there is a season,
 —— and a time for every purpose under heaven:
 —— A time to be born, and a time to die;
 —— A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
 —— A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
 —— A time to love, and a time to hate;
 —— A time for war, and a time for peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2, 4, 8)

But we are not always so mindful of withholding judgment on others or on ourselves.

We humans are not defined by a single season. Thus, do not judge others—or yourself—by a single season.

Seasons come; seasons go.

A crab apple tree in my backyard is winter-stripped of leaves. However, I see the discernible hint of leaf buds on its twiggy branches.

Seasons come; seasons go.

Beside you in the journey of faith,
Rev. Barbara