It was raining and 43 degrees yesterday when I stopped to look up into this tree.
Its trunk and branches are strong. Yet by its appearance, it is joining the rest of us in acknowledging that we have no power to resist the seasons of life.
Solomon, struggled for a while to make sense of a life that must bow to the relentless cycles of nature. Yet, even in the days of spiritual wandering, he sensed that, in the plan of God, there is a time for everything (Ecc 3.1)
Moses saw the seasons as a reminder of God’s mercy. After telling the story of a terrible flood in the days of Noah, he quoted God as saying that, even though our hearts are inclined toward evil from the day of our birth, yet he is committed to giving us the seasons of planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night for as long as this present earth remains (Gen 8:21).
Thinking about the inevitable seasons of God eventually reminded me of a prayer attributed to Francis of Assisi. In this often quoted prayer, Assisi prays for the grace to plant into our relationships the kind of seed that reflects our hope in the seasons and harvest of God. He prayed,
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
This prayer resonates so deeply in me as we once more sense together the changing of the seasons. In the unrelenting grip and step of time, there are thoughts of change:
What will be.
What could be.
What may be
What may not be…
Yet the heart of this prayer does not ask for control. It asks for the grace to “plant” seeds of peace, love, forgiveness, faith, hope, light and love. Seeds have a life of their own that anticipates a harvest that comes from God alone.
So it is with the rest of this prayer. It too does not ask for control of others, but rather for the grace to “seek” interests far greater than ourselves… so that we can share with others… and with our God… the joy of his harvest, rest, and new beginning…