Whit’s End: To everything, there is a season
March 16, 2017
"Every evening sky an invitation
To trace the patterned stars"
Last night I was on the phone with my sister as I parked in front of my home. I stepped out of the car, lifted my eyes and gasped.
"Cheryl, I wish you could see all these stars. If I laid on the ground, I bet I could count 100 in a minute."
She sighed with what I suspect was a touch of envy. Glenwood Springs may be Garfield County's biggest city, but it's tiny in comparison to her metropolitan area of 1.5 million. That means the light pollution here is minuscule, as well, and it results in beauty unlike what I've experienced before.
"Still I notice you when change begins
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And I am braced for colder winds
I will offer thanks for what has been and what's to come"
Cheryl is braced for something of a change herself. Next weekend marks her 30th birthday. Days later, she'll close on the sale of her first house. Cheryl, her husband and their three children will move into their second, larger home. It's spacious enough for the kids to spread out and for my 8-month-old niece to have her own room. They'll also be a five-minute drive from our parents, which is sure to make everyone's lives immeasurably easier.
Perhaps there's some symbolism in how closely Cheryl's milestones align with the change of season.
"And everything in time and under Heaven
Finally falls asleep
Wrapped in blankets white all creation
These seasonal shifts — whether metaphorical or literal — aren't always welcome. This year in the throes of winter, my family experienced death. My sister Cristin died, unexpectedly, at age 34.
The two months since have been marked by sorrow and confusion. And yet, the world continues to inspire joy. Cheryl and I have discussed how wrong it feels to experience happiness after such loss.
And yet, that's the privilege of life. Loss shapes us, but we're able to define our days. The morning after I learned Cristin died, I drove to Aspen for a pair of meetings. My world permanently shifted the night before, and yet the earth around me was almost blindingly beautiful. Everything and nothing had changed on that bluebird day.
"And everything that's new has bravely surfaced
Teaching us to breathe
And what was frozen through is newly purposed
Turning all things green"
The days are longer now, and the sun illuminates another change of season. For my family, it's the first without Cristin's sense of humor or flair for the dramatic. It's also the start of Cheryl's third decade. It's the last brand-new season my niece Molly, a summer baby, will experience before her second trip around the sun. It's my first spring in Colorado, and already my calendar is filling with camping and climbing trips.
Spring symbolizes rebirth. As we carry the bleak days gone by in our memories and their effects in our bodies, we step into the promise of each new day. And as we walk forward, I hope my family and yours can lean into the hope of each new season.
"So it is with you and how you make me new
With every season's change
And so it will be as you are recreating me
Summer, autumn, winter, spring."
—Nichole Nordeman, "Every Season"
Carla Jean Whitley often turns to Coloradan Nichole Nordeman's "Every Season," excerpted here, when the winter solstice approaches. This year, it's on her mind as spring arrives. Reach Carla Jean at firstname.lastname@example.org.