Four months ago, this leaf didn’t exist. The tree in my back yard on which it grows looked dead. There were no signs of life there. But this evening, it’s vibrant and lush — green and beautiful and full of life.
For many generations, human beings were directly connected to the cycles of nature. Their lives changed depending on the season. Their understanding of the seasons was crucial to their survival. They learned to plant in the spring, work fields in the summer, to harvest in the fall, and to protect themselves in the winter.
Modern humans are shielded from the cycles of nature. We have temperature-controlled homes and offices. We have pretty much the same food year-round, even if we don’t quite understand how that happens. My life in the summer isn’t much different from my life in the winter. Yours probably isn’t much different, either.
Reconnecting with the cycles of nature — and understanding what they teach me about myself and about this life — has been one of the most important parts of the last decade or so for me. And watching this leaf and all the other growing greenery in my back yard has me thinking this evening about that lesson once more.
Our loss of connection to nature has made us impatient, because we know longer understand on a deep level that everything has its season. If I want to eat some food — almost any food I can think of — I can go buy and eat that food right now. Just a couple of hundred years ago, a man could eat only what was in season and whatever might be stored for later seasons.
If a man wanted an apple or an orange or some other fruit, for instance, he would know it was something he couldn’t have when it wasn’t in season. In this way, he was forced to learn patience and to delay gratification.
Today, we learn to expect almost everything we want as soon as we want it.
In practical terms, this ability to have what we want is a great thing. I appreciate having this choice, so I don’t want to go back to the days before technology made this possible. I’m just painfully aware that we have lost much understanding of life by no longer learning the lessons that came with seasons.
Our lives go through cycles. Sometimes we are growing and producing like mad. Other times, we can appear dead or dying. We are prone to believe we can have a nice, smooth life instead of the ups and downs of cycles, but we can’t.
Relationships go through cycles. Friendships, romances, business arrangements — they all go through cycles. They flourish and grow. They become stagnant. Then they either die or they go through rebirth.
When I looked at the trees in my back yard four months ago, I had faith they were still alive, but there were no signs of life. As warm weather returned, my faith was rewarded and green returned everywhere.
There’s one tree, though — behind my fence — which looked just like the others four months ago, but today it’s dead. When spring came, life didn’t return. Without life, it will rot and fall onto the ground, there to turn to dust and fade away.
A dormant relationship can be like the tree which supports this vibrant green leaf or it can be like the tree which was still standing even though it had no life. It’s impossible to tell the difference for awhile.
I’ve gone through a painful period of dormancy in my life for a number of years now. I’ve talked with you about that before. The last year or so has been a bit like the beginning of spring. There are signs of life and hope and rebirth. I believe I’m about to enter the most productive season of my life so far.
Other things remain dormant. One important relationship in particular is dormant, but just like those trees in my back yard four months ago, it’s impossible to say whether it’s dead or just waiting for rebirth.
Some things in life need to die. That’s normal and healthy. We have to walk away from the dead things. We have to give a chance to the things which are brand new. But there is a period during which we watch something dormant and wonder — is it dead or alive?
Changing seasons — rebirth, vibrant growth, dormancy, death — are part of this natural world, whether we like it or not. We will cycle through those seasons as we grow and change. We need to learn from the natural world and accept our cycles.
I’m ready for birth and growth and positive change in my life. I have faith they’re coming for me soon.