It's hot here in Atlanta. The heat index today is supposed to reach into the triple digits. It's the one thing I think everyone in America can agree upon. It's hot.
Of course, it's summertime. It's supposed to be hot. July in Atlanta isn't going to be mid-70s with lows dipping into the 50s. That's just not going to happen. So, I'm not advocating complaint. I'm just saying...it's hot, and everyone knows it.
But I was thinking about something this morning at the gym, watching people I don't know go through their morning routines. Not everyone is in the summertime of their lives. Some are in the autumn of their years. Others are in the spring. Some are in the summertime, where the living is easy, the fish are jumping, and the cotton is high. Their daddy is rich, and their momma's good looking.
But some are suffering in a time of winter.
We all go through seasons in our lives, and those seasons are predictable. We all go through that rebirth that comes in spring. We know the feeling of new growth. Green. Yellow. Bright. Crisp. We all go through the lazy days of summer, lounging, splashing, sweating, relaxing. We've all known autumn -- the time to harvest and prepare. And we all know winter, when the nights are long, the fields are barren, and our bones ache for warmth to return.
Each season has some corresponding question we must ask ourselves:
- How do we prepare for change (autumn)?
- How do we move through suffering (winter)?
- How do we receive joy (spring)?
- How do we grow by sharing with and serving others (summer)?*
We can all agree right now that it's hot outside, but you never know when the person you're meeting may be frozen inside -- or hopeful -- or melancholic. It's important to remember that we're all in some season right now. Your season may not match mine, so it would be wise for me to walk gently into your fields and ask questions before making assumptions.
It's vital for you to know which season you are in for several reasons. One is so you can know which question you should be focused on right now. What kind of reading and listening and thinking should you be doing? What lessons should you be learning? What wisdom should you be seeking? Also, knowing what season you are currently in helps you know what to look for as the other seasons are sure to follow.
Which brings me to my final point: seasons change. Summer does not last forever. Enjoy that heat while you can. Get outside. Play. Relax some. Break a sweat in the yard, and splash around in the nearest body of water you can find -- even if it's just a neighborhood pool. But know this: Winter, also, does not last forever. If you're in winter, let yourself feel it. Then learn what you must so you can move into what's next.
*These four questions come from Alexander Shaia's book Heart and Mind.