If I have learned one thing through the process of writing a book, it is the value of time and seasons. This morning I walked through a nature preserve that my boys and I visit often. We spend many mornings here counting frogs among the pond reeds, catching grasshoppers, and watching the bees collect pollen from wild sunflowers. But this morning, I walked along the dirt path alone, winding my way slowly between ponds framed by late summer wildflowers.
As I walked, I thought back to the first time we came here, to that first walk we took along this path, collecting wildflowers of every shade of the rainbow. Months later, those flowers sit dried in a jar that hangs above my desk at home, and these yellow grass fields are dotted by only a few last flowers holding on to summer. The bees busy themselves traveling from bloom to bloom collecting the last of the pollen.
I think back to when the book was a hatchling idea, new and fresh. In the thrill of it all I wanted to sit down and punch the entire thing out in one mega burst of creativity, but I quickly learned that these things don’t work that way. Not well, at least.
Today as I walked around those glowing fields, watching blades of wheat dance in the gentle breeze, I thought about the seasons that have sown this book together. Without them, the seams of it would lay open and wanting; an unraveled list of ideas and lessons, without the stories and experience to bind them together.
This story needed to see spring’s cultivation, and then the planting, sprouting, budding, blooming, dying, falling, and repeat. It needed to see the cyclical process of rebirth and regeneration, of failure, victory, and harvest. It needed to push through the dark and cold of winter, and witness the mercies that come with each rising of the sun.
I’m tempted at times to hasten the work. This morning I sat with an agenda, and prayed for the focus to put my head down and get the work done. And I did, until I found myself exhausted of words. That’s when I knew that I needed to come here, and listen to the cadence of gravel crunching beneath my shoes until more words came.
The richest of experiences can be found in the waiting, it seems. At least, that’s what I have found in both book writing and boy raising. The passing of time is an essential ingredient to every story. Stories unfold when we take notice of the seasons, and their transitions from one to the next.
As I walk, I see the bench that the boys sat on a few months back, and the dock that they ran out to as they chattered to one another about fishing. I walk past their favorite spot to stop and watch the dragonflies, and the bridge they lean over to spot the crayfish under the water’s surface. And I see the thread that ties these memories together, the seasons in which they’ve found their place in our story.
Every one of our stories, they require these seasons. And we get to choose, as we step out of one season and into the next, whether our stories will sour as like milk, or age and mature as like a fine wine. We get to choose, as those wildflowers lose their petals and shrivel up, whether we’ll preserve them in a jar to carry on with us into our next season. We get to choose what we leave behind, and what becomes a part of us.
Seasons are the framework in which our stories exist, and where life’s questions find their answers. What in a previous season seemed terribly obscure, confusing, and frightening, may reveal itself in striking clarity as we walk into a new season.
Our job is this: in our current season, we must walk slowly enough to notice the right-here right-now lessons; ones that will give us greater understanding for navigating what comes next. Our task is to walk these paths with great attention, collecting wildflowers and time’s gifts– the memories that will serve as an anchor to us wherever we find ourselves next.
Our job is to stop lingering in a past season, and not to fret the season coming next. Instead, let’s savor the season that we’re standing in right now. Let’s saturate it in joy, attention, laughter, rest, and purpose. Let’s weigh it down with all of our consideration for the small things that are really the big things.
Whatever your season looks like right now—it is yours for the making. Let’s mark it with such extravagant beauty that will impact us, and those closest to us, for every season to come.