Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Seasons of Life

By L.A. Kohl
October 5, 2005
(published in the Wed., Oct. 12 2005 edition of the Bullseye)

My husband gets rather philosophical at times, and one morning last week happened to be one of them. He caused me to stop and ponder for awhile. Perhaps it is something we should all ponder on occasion; contemplating where we’ve been and where we’re headed.

Fall is now upon us – but for Nate and I, it’s not just the annual fall season. We’ve now reached middle age, which signifies the “fall” season of our life is just beginning. One thing that traditionally happens in fall is storing up for winter time…putting up hay, gathering in garden produce, etc. For us in our lives, that is looking like trying to think a little bit about “winter”. Retirement.

Being self-employed means no 401k plans or retirement benefits, and until now we’ve never felt like we had enough resources to save for something that was still decades in the future. Maybe we still don’t have the resources, but the “decades” are getting fewer and thus, we just recently decided to make an extra effort to start putting a little bit each week away in a safe place, where we can’t spend it at…well, you name the place and we can spend it there! Finances aren’t the biggest thing we’re thinking about during this new fall season of life, however. A harvest of a much bigger magnitude is looming before us.

When we got married at the age of twenty, you could say our “summer” season of life began. Starting a family became the focus of those summer years, helping our children grow and mature into responsible adults. But now we’re approaching the first days of our parental harvest time.

It’s true – we’ll have a very long harvest time, as our youngest is only two years old! But our oldest, much to our shock and disbelief, will be off to college come this time next year. Does that happen to a farmer, you suppose? Does he look out at his field one day and say, “Goodness gracious! It’s time to combine already, and here it seems like I just finished planting!” I don’t know if a farmer ever says that or not – but we sure have been.

What does “harvest time” look like in life? I’m not sure yet (remember, we’re just getting started) but I have expectations. I think it means watching what these young lives will do with everything we’ve instilled in them over the years. Will they water and nurture our teachings and ideals, to be regenerated in the next generation? Or will they trounce on them and become something that we never wanted or intended? It’s a scary time, standing on the verge of this harvest, because unlike the farmer, we can’t just plow everything up and try again next year.

Parents, I know it’s so easy to get busy with your jobs, your hobbies, and all the other countless things that demand our time. But as you pass through your seasons in life, consider how quickly those seasons pass, and how quickly your children are growing. You and I only have one chance at raising these “little sprouts," so we better get serious and make the most of it while we still can.