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Carrie Carter ~ Soul Seasons

“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” ~Ecclesiastes 3:1

In case you didn’t know it, fall has arrived. The earth tilts on its axis and the days shorten, the air grows crisp, leaves change from green to varying hues of red, orange, and yellow, and combines roar through fields of golden-brown corn, stirring up enough dust that your sinuses aren’t sure what hit them, though they know they’re not happy.

For those of you who know not what I speak of because of geography, there is also pumpkin spice. I would almost tell you to trust the season of pumpkin spice, for this is what fall has become; but I fear pumpkin spice will go the way of seasonal decorations, as Halloween hangs next to Christmas décor. I rue the day when pumpkin spice is served alongside Derby Day’s mint juleps.

It’s as if our seasons are no longer definitive. Our lives have become so hectic and hurried that we live in one jumbled, chaotic season of “Sprumfinter” (springsummerfallwinter), which might explain why I see shorts paired with Uggs at Walmart in 20-degree weather.

Have you ever evaluated in which season your soul might be currently residing? Has the thought even occurred to you that your soul goes through seasons at all? Let me give you an example: My soul is currently coming out of a winter season. It has been long, dark, and, at times, bitterly cold. It is a season of waiting, a season of being pruned.

Winter is barren and stark. A time of living on the reserves you have stored from previous seasons. Winter does not bear fruit. Winter does not harvest. Winter can only hunker down and let God do his work. It is painful, but it is during the winter season that your roots have the potential to grow deeper in him than in any other season.

Or maybe you are in the spring of your soul, clearing rocks from the field, preparing soil, and planting seed. Your soul is blooming with new purpose, new vision. It is a time of renewal in every way. It is a season filled with hope, with anticipation for what could be. Love is revived and your eyes sparkle with fresh perspective. Passion is awakened the moment your soul is touched by the warmth of spring. There is work to be done and what better time than now?

Summer: granted, you may live in a place where summers are practically unbearable; where heat melts the soles of your flip-flops. However, the season of summer in your soul is a time of enjoyment–of God and those he has put in your path. It is a season of relaxation and play, without apology and with abandon. It is gleefully collecting the firstfruits of your planting, and living unhurried and unworried, existing fully in the moment, taking time to be aware of a cool breeze brushing across your sun-kissed face, and dancing with joy at the abundant blessings you’ve been given: all are signs of a soul-summer.

IMG_2104And now your soul cycles back to fall. Frost withers the grass and the leaves loosen their grip from the branches that birthed them. Fall is a season of celebrating God’s bounty, and gratefulness should overflow and splash out onto everyone you come in contact with. Yet, there is an urgency to autumn. You are driven to harvest what you have planted. To reap what you have sown. To store up the results of spring’s work and summer’s care. To feast on a harvest of righteousness, if that’s indeed what you’ve planted and nurtured. Though a physical fattening up for the winter is no longer something we North Americans have a need for, it is imperative that you fatten your soul on spiritual disciplines throughout the spring and summer, but especially in the fall, if you expect to survive the soul’s winter.

The most important thing for you to recognize is that seasons of your soul cannot be rushed or tossed into a tangled heap (think of snow-covered, fallen leaves laying on a beach of daffodils). You need to take a step back and become aware of the season in which you are, and that you ask God what his expectation is in this season. You cannot plant and harvest at the same time, nor can you bear fruit while being pruned. You can only acknowledge where you are and do the appropriate work for that season. Don’t decorate for Independence Day while observing Easter.

And, if you are in a soul-season of fall, celebrate pumpkin spice everything.