Seasons of Change

Today I am thankful for the seasons.  How appropriate that we would have Spring, Summer, Winter and Fall.  When I think of the seasons I think of the trees and a story my dad used to tell me. 

 There is a Native American story of a chief that had 4 sons.  His sons were very impatient and reckless.  He wanted to show them the meaning of life, that patience is important and to not judge things too quickly.

 So he sent them each on a quest, in turn, to go and look at a pear tree that was a great distance away. The first son went in the winter, the second in the spring, the third in summer, and the youngest son in the fall. When they had all gone and come back, he called them together to describe what they had seen.

The first son said that the tree was ugly, bent, and twisted. The second son said no it was covered with green buds and full of promise. The third son disagreed; he said it was laden with blossoms that smelled so sweet and looked so beautiful, it was the most graceful thing he had ever seen. The last son disagreed with all of them; he said it was ripe and drooping with fruit, full of life and fulfillment.

The man then explained to his sons that they were all right, because they had each seen but only one season in the tree’s life. He told them that you cannot judge a tree, or a person, by only one season, and that the essence of who they are and the pleasure, joy, and love that come from that life can only be measured at the end, when all the seasons are up. If you give up when it’s winter, you will miss the promise of your spring, the beauty of your summer, and fulfillment of your fall.

 I am thankful for the seasons in life and the wonderful examples God gave us to look at.  Pay attention, be patient and don’t judge too quickly, but most of all enjoy each season as it comes.

Cherry Coley (c)

Ending Cycles and Renewal Ahead

A friend of mine told me that when you lose one parent, you are still okay, because you still have the other one.  You hurt, you grieve, but you have someone to share it with and you still have that foundation of where you began.  When the other parent dies then your world is shaken.  When the other parent is gone then you lose a large bit of your soul, your heart and your identity.

I did not experience this at first even though it was only two and a half months between when both of my parents passed away.  No, I went through the gut punches of grief when it knocks you to the floor now and then out of the blue, I have felt lost at times, but that has gradually gotten better.

The actual experience like my friend described hit me in the month of May.  May, the month I was born, and Mother’s day.  It is also the month that see’s the end of another school year. 

It was a humbling thing to realize I would never again celebrate my birthday with my mom.  My birthdays have never been grand or a big deal anyway, but mom always made it a point to make a cake, get a mushy card and a gift of some kind.  She made sure we all did something on THE DAY, not when it was convenient later. 

I found myself distraught on my birthday and the days that followed.  Unable to stop the tears and such a great sense of loss that just would not go away and a heart that felt deeply wounded all over again.  Then in a moment of great sadness I opened a drawer while unpacking and ran across a card.  A birthday card from my mother, it was from last year I think, but it still made me smile. 

This month has proven to be one of the hardest months I have ever lived through.  The passing of time has been so present, so prominent starting with my birthday and ending the month with my oldest daughters’ graduation.  It is a bittersweet time for all of us, as she is having a difficult time with the grief too and fighting back tears that her grandparents won’t be there to see her graduate. 

Yet, it is a time of renewal too because just as it is a notable end to some cycles in this life, the month also marks the beginning of a new cycle, the start of a new path for both of my daughters and myself. 

My oldest daughter will be walking the stage to say goodbye to high school and onto a path of her own choosing including college and the adult choices that she will face along the way.

My youngest daughter is graduating 8th grade and will start her journey through high school and preparing for her future and the dreams she holds dear.

I spent the better part of last week in a muddle, second guessing things I had no real business second guessing because – guess what – my friend was right, you do indeed seem to lose a part of your identity with the loss of both parents.  So it became a time of meditation, prayer, wise counsel, and choosing to remain true to the path I have chosen.

So the hardest month became the darkest tunnel, and now with the beginning of June in sight, the light is shining again.  We go forward, we press on, and we will walk through until we reach the other side and find ourselves, our dreams and each other again.

Cherry Coley ©

Wisdom: A Gift To Be Treasured

Have you ever noticed that it is easier to give advice sometimes than to take it when we need it?  Funny isn’t it?  Yet at some point in life we are all guilty of this same thing whether it’s because of pride or just because the advice, though sound, is not what we want to hear so we put it aside for a bit and stumble on trying to prove it wrong.  I have on occasion caused myself to trip up in many ways by not heeding good advice when I should have.

My youngest daughter found a little notebook full of poems and thoughts I had written when I was about her age.  I have to say, I sounded like I knew what I was talking about on some things, though I read it now and think, “Wow, if you only knew how true those words were!” 

Was I wise?  Well, wisdom is the ability to discern or judge what is true, right or lasting.  Wisdom includes insight, common sense, good judgment and more importantly, being able and willing to act on those things.  Not sure you can have a lot of real wisdom at age 14. I can only say that even at a young age I was a listener, a people watcher and quick to notice and understand things. Being shy helped too, I suppose, in some ways.

I think Benjamin Franklin was one of the wisest people from United States history.  He was always spreading little tidbits of information, wisdom with a dose of humor thrown in.  The man had a profound impact on history, people and the nation in every aspect!  He is one of the people I love to learn and read about because he had such a unique and daring personality.  There are many throughout history that have passed down wisdom and experiences for us to learn from.

As for me, I learned a lot about life, families and friendships from the grandma’s in the quilting bee at church.  I loved to sit underneath that huge stretched quilt and watch them sew the fabric, piece things together and talk the whole afternoon about anything and everything going on in their lives.  They wove stories together in the same way they pieced that quilt together.  I loved listening to them work things out and give each other advice.  The older women mentored the younger women.  What’s more is they knew I was there and if they wanted to be sure I understood something, one or two of the ladies would peek underneath the quilt and ask me if I understood what was being said.  If I didn’t then they would have me come up topside, sit in a chair and explain it to me.  I learned so much from my group of adopted grandma’s. 

Was I always wise in my actions? I am human and like most humans, many times, years later I will remember some tidbit someone told me, or a quote I heard along the way, right about the time I have committed to some stupid action that will take a fair amount of time to clean up.  Then the lesson and wise advice from long ago will be ingrained in my memory, become a bigger and more prominent part of me (I hope) because I hate it when I don’t learn my lesson the first time and repeat the same choice which ultimately ends in the same results. 

In all of this I have realized that wisdom really does come with age.  Though we may know the right thing to do, it doesn’t mean we will always do the right thing.  Failures are not permanent, and mistakes are not final.  Wisdom is sometimes hard-won and when asked it is passed on to fellow travelers on this journey. 

So, if you are asked for your advice, please be honest and be kind enough to share your experiences and wisdom along the way, don’t worry if your words aren’t accepted or approved of the way you think they should be, that’s not the point anyway.  The person you share them with was put in your path because they needed to hear them, the choice is still theirs and they will either learn from your lesson, or be taught their own.

Cherry Coley ©