What season of life are you in?

I remember overhearing my two children who have had the uncommon benefit of travelling extensively around the world, saying to each other: “We love coming home to Canada; we wouldn’t live anywhere else; we love having and experiencing the four seasons our country offers”. 

Though across Canada the renowned Canadian winter was less evident this past year, the transition to spring is a welcomed event. For several months we arise in the dark to go to work and leave work to go home in the dark. Winter’s bitter cold is capable of piercing the most advanced micro fibres or the traditional wool and down used to keep us warm. While autumn attempts to prepare us for the advent of winter, it is the toughest season to bear. January and February, well thank goodness they are over. 

But now spring is upon us. The daylight hours extend their reach into our lives with hope and excitement. The increasing strength of the sun’s rays warm not only bodies but our thoughts as well. Our conversations are more positive, our faces express fun and laughter and our step has that extra burst of energy. We slowly watch the sprouting of flowers, trees and shrubs. And without fail, we anxiously await the celebration of the first lighting of the barbeque.

Spring represents a rebirth of nature, a resurrection of life.

In my readings, a favourite author of mine wrote a book about the “Seasons of Life”. I read it a long time ago but was recently reminded to take it out and read it again. One of his opening comments is:

“Did you experience a winter of discouragement blowing like an icy wind through your mind? Or do you feel the exuberance of spring renewal, the lazy warmth of summer rest? Perhaps the winds of change have brought an autumn of reflection in your heart.”

From my family of five brothers and one sister, and I being the youngest brother, I see the seasons of life acted out in our lives daily. My Dad is gone, and my Mom is reaching a season in life where she is contemplating moving into a nursing home. My brother Harold (#3) just announced his retirement, the first for us all. Now when the brothers convene at the Hillier family camp in Huntsville for that quarterly update of “what’s happening,” the conversation is primarily about when the rest of us plan to retire and what we will do with our time. My brother Lloyd (#4) for the first time in his life, due to a restructuring at MDS where he was VP, is now facing “transition”. A season in life many of us have experienced and thankfully successfully survived. And I, the youngest, will see my second child graduate from university in April 2010. My children, Richard and Joanna, will now seek out their own careers, cut their own path and live the seasons of life, many times over. Linda and I will begin the season as “empty nesters” and hopefully experience a rebirth of some sort of our own relationship, given that the past was smothered with other “seasonal” matters. And of course, we watch as our bodies’ age, their strength and energy decline gradually and graciously, with the odd health challenge thrown in to remind us not only of our mortality but more importantly our priorities.

Nature’s seasons are so reflective of our own lives. With change there is a consistency. Winter is gone but spring is here. Spring grows into summer. Summer fades into autumn. Autumn falls into winter. And with consistency, nature repeats itself over and over, without fail. 

Consider these questions about the “Seasons of Life”. 

(The questions are different, but each answer is the same.) 

What will guard us against foolish extremes?
What characterizes those who are habitually successful in sports or sales or some skill?
What single quality in a business builds respect deeper than any other?
What brings security in relationships?
What makes us choose a particular brand name over all others?
What’s needed most by parents in the home?
What draws you to the same restaurant time and again?
What do you want most from your phone service or internet provider?
What makes a good wine?

CONSISTENCY. That’s the answer to all nine questions, and you know it’s true. 

You can count on it. It’ll be there tomorrow just like it was yesterday… free from silly moods, sudden changes, or fickle fads. Early in the day or late at night, consistency stands firm. When pain or hardship bites, consistency doesn’t bleed. When the majority is tired and irritable, consistency is stable and resilient. Not insensitive, boring… but reliable, faithful. Not opposed to change or reason, but trustworthy. Not stubborn, but solid. Yes, that’s it: solid. It’s the stuff most mothers are made of when their little ones get sick… 

It reveals itself in faithful employees who show up on time, roll up their sleeves, and commit themselves more to doing the job than watching the clock. Diligence is its brother… dependability, its partner… discipline, its parent. 

CONSISTENCY. A living model of patience, determination, and strength — regardless of shifty, rootless times. The blasts of ridicule and criticism may punch it in the face — but consistency stands and takes it as silently as a bronze statue takes the tempest. One poet calls it “a jewel,” another “an anchor of iron.” It knows little of ups or downs, highs or lows, blue Mondays or holiday hangovers. It hates tardiness and absenteeism. It thrives on sacrifice and unselfishness. It’s an obvious mark of maturity. It’s hanging in there day in and day out in spite of everything that could get you sidetracked. 

Nature’s seasons have consistency. While we watch the changes nature brings us, nature is an example to us of consistent orderliness among the change. 

Let’s apply consistency to our own lives regardless of what season of life we find ourselves in.