Ah, spring! Around here when the sun breaks out for hours, after all that northern winter gray, you see people smiling wherever you go. Golden light bathes everything, newly arrived birds are singing, the breeze blows fresh and sweet.
Why then, in that time some years ago, did the blues come and visit and drag me down in springtime? It didn’t make sense (I thought). Nothing was going wrong in my life.
Then I read the chapter on “seasonal blues” in Getting Up When You’re Feeling Down, by Harriet Braiker, and suddenly my springtime blues made perfect sense.
Words there prodded me to survey my past to see if some event(s) had happened in spring that might make me subconsciously connect it with loss, endings, trauma, or mourning. Suddenly I realized that for me Spring had become my “Time of Many Endings.”
Of course there were the predictable and even planned endings. School always ended then—yearly, when I taught, more permanently when I retired, and later when homeschooling closed with the graduation of our youngest. But what a list of other endings I started realizing—and some of them neither expected nor happy!
My mother died in spring. My youngest son took a campus job in his second college spring, ending summers at home. He married in spring, fixing the emptiness of the nest more firmly. And, come to think of it, it had been spring when that lawyer had come bounding jauntily up my front steps bearing my final divorce decree: huge elaborate document that dwarfed my marriage certificate, college degree, and permanent teaching certification, all put together!
Hand-delivering the thing he was, and peering into the house he knew I had to vacate, eyeing it up (I came to believe) as potential office site for his law firm. (They bought it later, cheap). At that time my one-year substituting job also came to an end, with no fresh job prospects, or place to move to, and a car so rusty it wouldn’t pass state inspection and wasn’t worth the money to repair, if I’d had it.
More recent springtime endings then came rushing back to my remembrance: How it was on Mother’s Day that same aforementioned son found himself facing divorce himself. It was spring when a bad church situation compelled my husband and me to leave, ending our ministries there (three for me, actually), our church social network, and sure publication and promotion of a book I’d written. It was also spring that brought news of a horrific death in the family, and of secret horrific abuse that had led to it.
There was more, I was sure, if I wracked my brain, but who needed more?
The point was that if I were going to clamber out of the Springtime Blues, I had some work to do.
Well, if the problem was endings, the antidote would be new beginnings, right? I needed to change spring from being a time of endings to one of new beginnings.
I thought back to when my nest had abruptly emptied after homeschooling fullness. Seeing the blues potential beforehand then, I’d headed it off at the pass with travel plans for which I now had the freedom, and filled up my days with people visits and new projects, or old ones begun previously but laid aside because “too busy.”
How well that had helped! So I used the same tactic on the Springtime Endings Blues—to similar happy effect!
But what about now, at this “winter season” of life? Make new beginnings even now? Can people do such things? I wondered. Can I?… Isn’t it too late?…
(continued next “Themesday,” aka Thursday, for the answers I’ve gotten, and the new avenues they’ve opened.)
6 thoughts on “Grace-Aging Lessons from Seasonal Blues and the Empty Nest”
ARRRGGGGHHHH…..Next Thursday????? This IS a cliff hanger.
Sorry. I sometimes hate that I should keep to 600 words in a blog post. I’ll try to publish the continuation before Thursday.
Beautifully expressed, Sylvia… Let us hold up the Name of Jesus against all those sad spring memories, for He recreates your spring to beauty for ashes! (Also… please don’t pronounce the end of life on yourself at 70! I’m not near that yet, still I think of another of God’s word… the original blessing He intends and spoke over us – “And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.” Genesis 6:3 Let us go for God’s word on that! 🙂 And see what beauty He still has for our lives no matter what our age! 🙂
I’m glad you brought the overcoming power of Christ into the picture, because that was key for me in overcoming and moving on past each dead end or tragedy. (I overwrote my limit, and left that for a later post.) Also, you read more into a phrase I used than I intended it to be imbued with, so I have reworded it to avoid its being a distraction to the post’s main point. Rich Resurrection blessings to you this weekend and the week ahead!
Sylvia- What an insightful post…and heart wrenching to read of all the loss listed in one place…but it is sobering to know that God gives us new beginnings to comfort us in the losses…I think there’s a book called Sacred Sorrow by Michael Card that I keep meaning to read. Lamenting our losses and seeking God’s goodness and comfort in the midst is a rich experience. Thank you for reminding me that there is a season for endings and new beginnings.
Thank you so much, Kel, for your kind encouragement. And you put it well: “Lamenting our losses and seeking God’s goodness and comfort in the midst is a rich experience.” The richest experience(s) of my life, actually, I would say. I think I’ll look for that Michael Card book. I’ve liked everything I’ve read or heard written by him, and especially value how most of it points the mind and heart directly to the Word for insights and understanding.
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