The Patience of the Seasons
Editor’s note: DCSC volunteer, Hannah Puvalowski, uses nature and poetry to reflect on times of transition.
A flower cannot bloom without water and sunlight. Baby birds cannot fly without nourishment from their parents. It takes 40 years for a maple tree to be ready to share its sweet syrup. The transition from winter to spring is one of slow, tender care. Why then are we impatient with ourselves? Nature reminds us that we are also creatures that require time to grow.
This growth reveals itself it in patterns or seasons. Currently, I am experiencing a season of waiting. A waiting for what is next. I frequently try to speed up this process, longing for what is next. However, a sunset does not happen in a single moment, it occurs after a day’s time. The sun greets the horizon after a full day of moments- moments of joy, sadness, frustration, silliness, awe, and contentment. These moments all muddled together and celebrated by the beauty of the setting sun.
Amidst the waiting it is important to pay attention to these little occurrences of each day. My mind and heart are often distracted by something I wish I had, not recognizing the beauty in the present moment. The sweet taste of an oatmeal peanut butter chocolate chip cookie (my favorite!), the evening light iridescently glowing through tree leaves, a friend sharing a story or philosophical thought, or perhaps finally a moment of inner stillness. Appreciating the right now can cause a perspective shift, a recognition of the current goodness, and a detachment from something we think we need to be happy.
Where does this leave the rainy days, the dying garden, the feelings of sadness and despair? Yes, these not ideal instances will and do still exist. The longing for different circumstances will resurface. However, these periods of desolation and trifles, often reveal necessary growth to become that version of ourselves we so badly longed for. Like the flower we cannot grow without both the rain and sun.
In one of my first blogs as a volunteer with Franciscan Mission Service, I shared a prayer that I often lean into during periods of transition. Spoiler alert: life is constantly changing, and we must continue to learn to adapt. Whatever season you may be encountering, the words of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin are here to help:
Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability—
and that it may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.
Reflection Question: What grounds you during periods of waiting?