The pots by my front door have sat empty all winter. A recent week of sunny, warm days and blue skies sent me to the nursery to buy flowers to fill my pots. When I took my selection of plants to the register, the woman there said, “Thank goodness you’ve got enough sense to buy pansies. It’s not spring yet!”
This morning I wake to a winter rainstorm and a chill temperature in the 40s. No, we definitely are not yet done with winter, even though we long for spring. And nothing we do can make it otherwise.
Seasons must run their course. My brother died in November and it is still very early in my season of grief. When I think of him, he is alive, and then I must remember again that he is not, and sadness swells within me anew. I want to say, “Wait, that’s not right.” But it is real. Like a harsh winter rain, the pall falls around me.
Suffering, pain, denial, anger – all demand their seasons in our lives. And we must bend to their will. The wisdom teachers of the desert tell us to welcome these hard and bleak seasons. To invite them into our spirits and ask them what lessons they have to teach us. To resist or deny them is only to increase our dis-ease, to multiply our anguish.
By welcoming them – as we might the aunties whose temperaments are sour and bitter and whose breath is rancid – we yield ourselves to a fullness of life we have yet to experience. And we trust that God is in all of it – in the jonquils and tulips when their time comes, but also in the pansies, hearty enough to withstand the cold rain and the gray skies.