My Psalm 129
The Growing Season
For half of the planet we are in what is termed the harvest season. For the other half we are beginning the planting season. Both are important facets of the growing season, that period of time when conditions are such that plants experience the most growth. Distance from the equator, climate, elevation of the area are just some of the factors involved as is the crop being planted. Some plants will “take” or germinate at one specific temperature while others require a higher temperature.
The growing season is also known agriculturally as the frost-free season. Drawing an analogy between a plant’s growth and our own, I think many would agree that there are times where personal growth is difficult and often, those times occur when we experience a type of “frost” from our peers.
Nature has four seasons – spring, summer, autumn, and fall. Do our lives have similar seasons? A plant needs all four seasons for a variety of reasons. Spring is the time for birth in all and in summer and autumn we reap the harvest. Depending on the plant, perennials need the winter to renew and restore so that in the spring new buds can appear and flowers and fruits again are evident. Annuals need the winter to complete their life cycle. Although we see only a dead plant, the annual is slowly returning to the soil from whence it came, the nurturing environment that allowed it to flourish.
Economist and ordained minister Jerry Robinson explains it this way. “In congruence with nature, every Christian will experience four different seasons in their walk with God. Each season presents its own set of benefits and challenges. Our ability to determine which season we are in at all times will require an acute sharpness of spirit. But rest assured, sharpness of spirit is a worthy goal.”
Robinson sees the season of spring as a time of cleansing and transition and references a need for spiritual pruning and regrowth. Summer, he says, is marked by dryness and a need for spiritual food. Summer is often a time of “stumbling”, states Robinson. Autumn or fall for Robinson is a time of harvest and transition in which a need for correction is often evident. Winter for Robinson is when inner growth occurs and represents a time of maturing and strengthening.
I would suggest that perhaps our seasons are dependent upon our peers and our lifestyle choices. Certainly as the weather becomes warmer we tend to be more social but does that mean the coldest season of winter has no purpose? Alfred Lord Tennyson, England’s Poet Laureate for half a century in the 1800’s, penned in his poem “Locksley Hall”, “In the Spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.” Victor Hugo wrote “Winter is above me but eternal spring is in my heart.”
Canadian leadership guru Wayne MacNamara discusses the types of seasons of growth we experience. “Throughout my life and my business I have had many different seasons; seasons of happiness, seasons of grief, seasons of explosion, and seasons of frustration. Everyone goes through these different seasons in all areas of their life, business owners or not. While the seasons of happiness and growth are exciting, the down seasons are full of lessons that build our character and will power. I am so thankful for these ‘down’ seasons because it is there that I have been able to see the most growth in myself. However, the ‘up’ seasons are definitely the most fun and energizing. Summer is such an awesome time of the year. The sun is out, golf courses are open and I get to hang out with all my friends more than I do all year. It has also always been my favorite season for building my business, and often ends up being a season of explosion for myself and business partners.
Each season we live has its value and all our life experiences are lessons to help us grow. Ralph Waldo Emerson is quoted as saying: “To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child or a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition, to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”
Our daily hours of growth, our yearly season of life are all part of a larger planting that enables us to grow as individuals and as a community. Some things we plant will grow and flourish while others will simply become attempts that were worthy for what we learned. Michelangelo provided impetus for continued plantings in our personal growth. “The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.”
Whether you are planting, experiencing, harvesting, or preparing for the new growing season, it is important to keep growing. The harvest is not in being better than another but in being the best we each can be. We don’t need to worry what someone else is planting or if they try to ruin us. The key is to keep cultivating new growth. As the Hindu proverb states, “There is nothing noble in being superior to some other man. The true nobility is in being superior to your previous self.”
My Psalm 129
Creator and Supreme Being of all,
Life source of all existence:
You walk beside me with each step I take.
You see the wounds upon my soul.
You know the furrows of despair I have experienced.
Your love dries my tears.
Your spirit within me sustains my living.
Your mercy uplifts me.
Your grace is my compass.
The wicked will walk alone.
The believer walks in your shadow.