As I walked through the countryside, surrounded by trees and falling leaves, I began to think about the patterns of change in our lives. We all have those periods of adjustment: a new job, a new relationship, retirement, or a move. If we are seekers, we also may find ourselves in the turbulence of transformation; feeling overwhelmed or even a bit lost. Each of us approaches change differently, and at different rates; hoping to see the light when we get to the other side.
Moving among the trees, I could actually hear the noise of the falling leaves in the woods. Letting go can be a tumultuous time as sounds from the past converge with the sounds of the future, the old fighting against the new. The woods were full of trees of differing colors and in differing growth periods. Each changing at its own pace. Each one on their own pathway in this Transforming Season. A time in which the spirit moves us toward something different at just the right time.
There are things that may easily drop away, just as trees gently release their leaves right on time. Some will hold on to their leaves until the last moment, hoping not to lose the luster of life. Denial at its best. And some trees, will let go of it all, standing bare before the world and open to the winds of change. Call it Surrender...
As the season of letting go progresses, we enter into the blustering winds of change–often thrown about and unable to control the swirl around us. In the swirl of the storm those last vestiges of our old self can torn away. A state of conditioning towards a new self begins. Just as we see in the raging froth of winter, some branches may be torn from the tree under the weight of a whitening snow. Some branches crash to the ground, leaving an opening for new growth. Some branches fall, leaving a gaping hole in need of healing and treatment.
Here we rest in the turmoil and beauty of the storm. It is a time to sort out what stays and what goes. To listen for that still quiet voice in the midst of our solitude. We begin to feel the rays of sun shining down and preparing for the emergence of a new season. Little by little, we begin to grasp the hope and promise of a transformed life. Day after day, hour after hour we reach upward to the warmth above. The thaw has begun, new life springs forward.
Finally, the cycle of Emergent Vision arrives. The trees become alive and lush with new leaves. A vision for our future becomes more clear. We feel more secure in the presence and warmth of God, willing to move into the future he calls us to live. Peace. Calm. Excitement. It is time for a jubilant dance as we breathe in the fresh air of a re-birthing.
Life is full of cycles. For those of us on a spiritual journey to discover more about our God-given purpose, moving forward always means letting go. Some storms of change may last for a long season as we wait for the Son-light to shine again. Remembering that there is the promise of a light at the end of the storm can help us to stand firm as we wait for the refinement to finish. Over and over, if we want to see improvement in our being, we must be willing to journey through these seasons as they occur.
No matter where you are in your season of life, I pray that you will always be open to a season of change and rebirth.
Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership by Ruth Haley Barton
Gospel of John, Chapter 16