Every day in our life's journey holds its own special treasures, if we have eyes to see...

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

High Places Calling

Spring is well established in Northern California. We’re past daffodils and first faint veil of greening tree leaves. The Bradford pears have bloomed and gone and the season of iris, daisy, and lily are upon us. But before that, of course, was winter.

Ours was not a winter as some experienced winter this year—snow to the knees or beyond and day after day of bone-chilling cold. But it was not spring, shall we say.

I love spring. The green is so fresh and welcome, it almost hurts your eyes. Bare branches boast new clothing, and gone are the browns and tans of wintertime.Yet without winter there can be no spring. Without spring, no summer. If summer does not happen, there are no leaves to turn colors in the autumn, and without the autumn to send the earth  to sleep, instead of pulling sap inward, plants and trees would die when winter rolls around.

I got to thinking about this and about how often we are willing--even  desireous--to skip seasons in our own lives. If given the option of fast-forwarding the finals week at school, skipping the stress of change, or waiting for a broken bone to heal, we definitely would.  
But here's what's highlighted to me:

 If we seek to fast forward or skip to the end of something, we shortchange ourselves, for we miss out on what would have been our process.

In a world where escaping pain has almost become an overarching life goal, one might argue that to skip a currently uncomfortable, unpleasant set of life circumstances is the whole point. By all means, fast-forward. 

But what if—rhetorical question here—what if we need the process of the season we’re in to ready us for the one to come? Opting out would leave us unprepared for our next stage in life. I find it interesting that what is usually a verb—process, to process something—is also a noun. Being in process. Synonyms include prepare, refine, distill, transform, change. 

I once read a story in which the character had a book that contained his life. When he didn’t like what was happening—an argument, an unhappy employer, a very cold winter day—all he needed to do was turn the page and skip the unpleasantness. Too tired to get up? He’d turn a page and find himself back home that
night. He never had to live through any pain at all. But the problem was, of course, that as he fast-forwarded those times, stages, or seasons, they were past, and one day he came to the end of his book and realized two things: one, he had reached the final page and there was no way to skip dying, and two, that his life had been so short. Tragically short,  and so lacking in depth of memories, challenges met and conquered, character acquired. His relationships were shallow because he had skipped over the more gritty aspects of working things out with people he loved. He mostly had happy memories, but they were not deeply happy moments, for he had never experienced the lower, painful places of his life and because of that, he could not really feel the heights of joy that might have been his.

Not too many people actually like the hard stuff. Me included. But there is a verse I love that puts it in perspective for me: "...the sufferings of this life are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18) As we go through the processes of  life, we have the opportunity to let them transform us, refine us, change us, and if we do, we get to experience not just pain and unpleasantness, but the heights of love and joy and beauty. Justice. Loyalty. Friendship, and so much more.We escape from the flat plain of neither pain nor pleasure, where abides neither sorrow nor joy. While we do not invite pain, we need not fear the low places in our lives. In fact, perhaps we can rejoice in the process as we move through these seasons, for they and they only develop in us the capacity to feel deeply, to experience the upper reaches of the pleasant happiness we all so desperately want. Whatever may be the valley, it exists between the heights, and those high places call us ever upward.

MT Shasta

1 comment:

  1. sister, u r a breath of spring air to me, with a little warm green sunshine around the edges. :-)