Ah, September. Vanguard of the season of mists, mellow fruitfulness and Strictly Come Dancing.
I love the changing seasons. It wasn’t until I spent two years in and around the seemingly permanently sunny countries of Central America that I realised how much I enjoy – even crave – the rhythm and pattern of four different seasons.
Yet as the nights start drawing in again, as the children go up another year in school, or move away to university or their first job, many of us have mixed emotions. How do they grow up so fast? Where does the time go?
Changing seasons emphasise the passage of time and remind us that none of us is getting any younger. Those carefree days when we were excited about our new school uniform, fresh exercise books and shiny, if uncomfortable, sensible shoes seem far away. The pressures of life weigh down and it can appear as though time is slipping by far too fast.
The writer of Ecclesiastes assures us ‘there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens… a time to plant and a time to uproot… a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance’ (3:1-4), but such a concept often seems foreign to 21st-century Westerners. Our technological advances have made us believe that we have the right and the duty to overcome natural processes. We are uncomfortable with mourning, and positively terrified of growing old.
In her new book, Am I Beautiful?, Chine Mbubaegbu touches on the issue of ageing, and her fears – ‘not being seen. Being ignored and seen as irrelevant, outdated and past it’ – are as much to do with value as with beauty.
Our culture tells us that youth is precious and desirable, while age, illness and infirmity are to be feared and despised. Yet just as every year goes through its seasons, so must every life. And just as each season of the year brings its joys along with its sorrows and its unique beauties along with its unique challenges, so does every season of life.
Our culture tells us that change is to be feared, but God tells us that ‘He has made everything beautiful in its time’ (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Who will you choose to believe?
This post first appeared as the Connecting with Culture email from LICC.