by JoAnne Windsinger
(extracted from Helium today)
Life follows the seasonal rhythms of the earth. Out of the frosty chill of a long winter comes new life and innocence of spring. The earth awakens and begins to teem with flora and fauna previously sleeping beneath frozen expanses, hiding in wintry mud, or hibernating in burrows or caves.
Animal mothers give birth to babies who discover the wonderment of feeling, experiencing, and learning. Bunny babies and little foxes peek out of holes for a first look at their world. The calf or foal stands on spindly legs and falls a few times while trying to take those first faltering steps.
The human infant depends on his caregivers for every need. In the spring of his life, he takes tentative steps toward independence, holding up his head, rolling over, sitting, and standing.
Soon the colt kicks up its heels and runs zanily through the meadow. The puppy chases its brothers and sisters and yaps crazily at dandelions, birds, and the moon. The baby advances and learns to care for himself: dressing and undressing, using a spoon, talking, and playing.
Spring is unpredictable, changeable, and stormy. Calm breezes suddenly churn angrily. Freezing rain follows a sudden blizzard. The temperature soars, melting away the evidence. People experience storms, problems, tantrums, and sunny moods.
Euphoria gives way to the grim business of staying alive, finding food, and learning all the skills needed in adulthood. The heat and weight of summer bear down and make living an effort. Animals cope with these problems in their individual ways.
Adults take on all the responsibilities of personhood. Work, worries, getting ahead, and repopulating the earth fill the summer of one’s life.
The heady days of summer give way to warm and delicious days and snuggly cool nights of fall. Much activity fills the days. Flocks of birds gather to start the long flight south. Trees transform into flaming masses of color. Fall flowers streak across the landscape in riotous bands of color.
In the autumn of life, responsibilities fly away to college, the service, marriage, or the job market. Mature people wind up their activities. They exchange the daily grind for other jobs and sometimes the realization of other dreams.
While preparing for a long sleep, the earth winds down its activities and warm days give way to gathering storms and punishing winds. Trees drop their flashy dress, flowers turn brown and drop off, and cold grips the land. Suddenly summer reappears for a brief moment but icy winds snatch it away.
The winter of life creeps in on dreadful, silent footsteps to grip everything within reach. Winter puts an end to old life and makes way for the new. It struggles for a bit but wins in the end. Bambi’s mother dies. Our mother dies. Soon it insists on taking us. We have no protest, no pretense, and no control: God is in control.
Out of winter’s misery, the pain of losing loved ones, comes a new innocence and renewed life that must learn navigate the seasons of the earth and the seasons of the heart, each generation different, but so much the same.