The Doorways of Winter

29861I hear my lover’s voice. Here he comes jumping across the mountains, skipping over the hills. My lover is like a gazelle or a young deer. Look, he stands behind our wall peeking through the windows, looking through the blinds. My lover spoke and said to me, “Get up, my darling; let’s go away, my beautiful one. Look, the winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Blossoms appear through all the land. The time has come to sing; the cooing of doves is heard in our land. There are young figs on the fig trees, and the blossoms on the vines smell sweet. Get up, my darling; let’s go away, my beautiful one.” Song of Solomon 2:8-13

There are things that happen in winter that can’t happen in any other season.

Consider factors of winter that only happen because of the preparation work done ahead of it in fall.

Consider factors of winter that are prerequisites for spring.

Seasons have doorways on either side of them, requiring movement from one season into another. Similar to benchmarks in school subjects, until one skill or task is accomplished, the next one cannot be tackled. It’s not as if a complete grade level needs to be completed before moving on, because we all know people learn in different ways at different paces. One child might move from the third to the fourth grade with a high proficiency in math, adequate ability in language, and minimal achievement in the arts. Another might be adequate in all three areas but not excellence in any specific one. Yet another might need to be tutored or attend summer classes for one subject but be doing fine in others. All three will step through the doorway from one season of learning to another, but their learning processes are different. Likewise, you might be in the winter season alongside someone but be experiencing a similar situation in a very different way. Your proceeding fall season might be significantly different and the resulting spring likely differs as well.

We cannot compare our seasons with anyone else’s. We also cannot expect each season of life to be tied up in a neat bow with everything resolved before we move on to another season. Each season pours into the next. We tend to compare seasons by saying one is more painful, fun, beautiful, or overwhelming than another, but seasons were never meant to be compared by experiential standards. Seasons are intended to be viewed together as they meld together into an entire life instead of being pulled apart to be measured against each other. While comparisons have benefit in learning to appreciate the uniqueness and importance of each season, comparisons leading to favoritism only results in dread, regret and discontentedness.

It’s like compiling a list of “traits to avoid” as you date people. You get annoyed by one person and say, “The next person I’ll date will be someone who never…” When you find a fault with the next date, you add another annoying trait to the list. The list grows, and before you know it, you walk around attentive for what you don’t want more than what you do. You look at what’s wrong more than what’s right. Of course, avoiding some behaviors and traits is important, but it’s more important to flip the trait so that you’re actually looking for the positive aspect. Instead of looking for someone who “is never rude,” you look for a person who “is polite and considerate.” Instead of looking for someone who “isn’t scared of commitment,” you look for someone who “perseveres to maintain relationships.” Throughout the seasons of your life, strive to look for what can possibly be happening that’s beneficial to the bigger picture of your faith instead of what’s uncomfortable and preferably avoidable.

How can shifting your perspective from what to avoid to what to learn help you through your current season?

In the verses of Song of Solomon, a love can bloom among the lovers because winter and the rains are over. Love can blossom because something has paved the way. Planting and nourishing has happened along the way. The seed has died in its first form in order to burst forth and grow. Leaves and other material has rotted and broken down to prepare the soil, essential for the growth of the roots and stem pushing through the dirt. Rain has poured down, leaving the clouds to pelt the ground, seeping into the soil, evaporating around the growing plant to soak just the amount of nourishment it needs. Specific conditions had to occur in order for the plant to bloom.

You need to endure some conditions in order to grow. You need to be patient to be able to bloom. You need to experience small deaths to experience full life. You must experience winter to experience spring and summer.

Reflect on the cause and effect principles reflected in the following verses. Let them soak into you, nourishing and challenging you to grow.

Do not be fooled: You cannot cheat God. People harvest only what they plant. (Galatians 6:7)

Give, and you will receive. You will be given much. Pressed down, shaken together, and running over, it will spill into your lap. The way you give to others is the way God will give to you. (Luke 6:38)

Do to others what you want them to do to you. This is the meaning of the law of Moses and the teaching of the prophets. (Matthew 7:12)

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