Bittersweet Symphony

And Time’s iron hand thrust us into a new season. Unrelenting. Unflinching. Unforgiving. Daring us to hold on as best we could. Mocking us with memory, and yet, promising something more on an ever-accelerating journey toward our life unwritten.

A ugust is here and the season is changing once again. For millions of parents, the annual transition from the lull of Summer to the structure and cadence of Fall’s school days is occurring. For those with children transitioning to adulthood through the college experience, it is a time of mixed emotion as cars are loaded with the necessities of higher education: clothes, supplies, towels, sheets, futon, and Keurig. In our house, we loaded up two heading in different directions. For the one entering his senior year, it is the last move of an era now ending.

The Seasons of Life

Such are the Seasons of Life. Ever-changing, they usher us to and between a collection of inflection points. Moments of transition from what once was to what is now to be. Times which are bittersweet in their duality; the joy of moving forward with all of its sense of possibility, the sadness of moments gone.

Though The Verve’s song of the same name is quite dark, the haunting music truly captures the essence of these changing seasons and their accompanying mix of emotions. With or without children, all of us are subject to these changes. Passing between the seasons reflects the natural ebb and flow of our existence. Though we often approach them with trepidation, the changes don’t exist to be feared. But fear them we often do.

Consider the season in which you are currently living. If it is a happy one, you don’t think about it changing. If sad, you pray for it to pass. Either way, it will change. For better or for worse, there is another season waiting for you. We don’t typically think about it much unless it is pressing on us. Comfort lies in not thinking, in simply floating on its current. We are far too busy grasping at the shiny things along the way to be too reflective on the moment staring us in the face.

As our son moves toward his next horizon, we realize that the nature of his return home will become something different. His life with us in our home will fade, replaced with a new one that is his alone. That season looks unfamiliar and a bit uncomfortable to us. It is hard to consider it without feeling some sense of loss. We wonder where the change leaves us, what it means for our own journey.

Not Ours

But it was never ours. His life was only ours to shepherd, to guide to this moment when he begins to stand alone. And it is there that we find peace. For we are all made to be stewards of those gifts placed in our lives. Too often we focus on what we lose in the changing seasons and fail to hold-on to the gratitude of the moment just before. Or the opportunity of what comes next. At this edge, we face the push/pull tension of time as we hold and release simultaneously. A place in which gratitude, and faith, are the only answers.

Change holds hope if we allow ourselves to see it. Even traumatic change. Watching my son walk away into that other life, the one in which I’m a lesser player, reminds me of how I must continue to evolve in my role as shepherd. My job is not done but my part in his life is changing. And that’s ok. Today, consider where you’re holding too tightly, resisting the change calling to you. Don’t run from the tension or the bitter flavor, let it happen. Eventually, the fear and doubt will fade and you’ll find the sweeter flavors in the possibility waiting on the other side.


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