Tuesday, October 29, 2013

That They May Know Hope

I awoke this morning to the weather report saying it was snowing just west of the Twin Cities. I have recently moved from a land of climate (Texas) to a land of four seasons (Minnesota). I interviewed here in the summer, but by the time an offer was extended and accepted, and all my worldly possessions were packed and loaded and moved, fall had arrived. I've been here almost six weeks now, and while it is technically still fall, my tree has shed its leaves, and there is snow within 100 miles. Winter is not far off.

I grew up with seasons, and I am enjoying this transition. As a child, knowing nothing but the drama of four seasons, it never occurred to me that Jesus actually lived in a land with climate. The seasons there were more defined by the planting and harvest patterns and the religious observances and transitions of the moon, than by a dramatic change in the weather.

Wherever you live, these days life is more climate-controlled, and regardless of where your child is growing up, her seasons may be more defined by what sport is being played or what holiday is being marketed than by the actual weather/climate. It is only in extreme heat or cold that children are really aware of the weather at all. Life is mostly a comfy 68-78 degrees Fahrenheit for them.

So what marks their seasons? I think the school year-summer divide marks two seasons for most kids. And the Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas triple holiday end of year excitement is perhaps a season for them. And maybe, for some kids, the Spring break through the end of the school year is a kind of mini-season of restlessness. I'm not sure. And I don't know if it matters. But I cannot help but wonder if we create a false sense of the passage of time when we exchange seasons for climate.

There was a time when kids were continually told to slow down, and wait for adulthood. These days I hear frequent laments about adult children still living at home, engaging in a kind of Peter Pan perpetual childhood. I think that there needs to be a reasonable amount of urgency, as well as some enforced waiting in our children's lives. It is a fact of life that there are natural seasons across a lifetime. We parents may not be able to rely on the natural rhythms of seasons and harvests to reinforce that lesson.

The Psalms frequently make mention of the passage of time. They remind me why we need to recognize the rhythms of life:
"Lord, how long will I live? When will I die? Tell me how soon my life will end. How short you have made my life! In your sight my lifetime seems nothing. Indeed every living being is no more than a puff of wind,no more than a shadow. All we do is for nothing; we gather wealth, but don't know who will get it. What, then, can I hope for, Lord? I put my hope in you."          Psalm 39:4-7 (GNT)
In the context of our American culture, this may seem a bit depressing, but in the end it is about hope. And hope is perhaps more needful for our children than at any time in the past. As we approach the "season" of holidays, perhaps we can think of ways to make them more meaningful. Make them better milestones for children who have lost many of the natural milestones of the seasons -- that they may know hope.

1 comment:

Cheryl said...

This could be an introduction to a book with all your holiday chapters!