Today was another weird day here in Vermont. Record-setting warm temperature, green grass, and muddy roads. In early February. It’s still winter, according to the calendar, but the weather could lead you to think otherwise. I don’t claim to know what is going on. The whole El Niño thing seems to be having its way with us. But even without that phenomenon, it’s clear that our four seasons flex and contract year to year. They don’t always stay within their prescribed 90 day boundaries marked out by the solstices and equinoxes. The order doesn’t change. Spring always follows winter. But the actual duration of each season can be unpredictable.
The same is true of the spiritual seasons of my life. They aren’t limited to 90 days. A season can last a few weeks or stretch on for years. And I don’t have a vernal equinox on the calendar to let us know that I am moving from winter to spring. So how can I discern my season? In her eminently practical Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, Adele Ahlberg Calhoun devotes an appendix to exploring seasons, ages and stages of transformation. She includes a helpful chart of the seasons of the spirit which lists some key questions, primary longings, and signs of the seasons. Some signs of winter include feeling stuck, angry, or distant from God. I’ve been there for a long time. But something has been shifting inside of me, and I’ve been wondering if spring might be coming soon. Calhoun says that spring is marked by a desire for more of God along with a greater awareness of longing or awe. That desire is budding in me, and it is giving me hope that this winter is turning into spring. Summer is marked by a passion to belong and grow. And autumn is the season of bearing fruit, taking initiative and utilizing gifts.
Last week I wrote about the importance of knowing our season so that we can avoid disorientation, disappointment and confusion. Each season has a purpose and is an opportunity to grow in different ways. When we know our season we can embrace and engage it with greater intentionality. And we can cooperate more fully with the Author of the seasons.
So, what season are you in?