Last evening, I was out in the garden in my backyard, picking raspberries, watching the birds chase each other from the lilac bush to the crab apple tree, listening to the neighbour kids splashing in the pool and laughing, smelling a hint of barbecue from another neighbour’s backyard. Before I’d gone outside, I had done two things: grabbed a pint-basket for the raspberries and blackberries, and slid my feet into sandals.
I pondered as I picked how different this is from winter, when the windows are closed tight against the cold, we hurry from our car to our house with barely a glance around the neighbourhood, we have to put on boots and scarves and mittens and coats. . . before we even open the front door to go out. The hours of sunshine are short. We have to scrape off our cars before we can drive them. It’s cold. Sometimes it's really cold.
And I thought to myself that as we waited and waited for spring to arrive this year, we longed for warmer, brighter days and wondered how long this winter business was going to drag on. No one longs for winter and waits for this awful summer thing to be over.
But then I had to acknowledge to myself that that’s not true. I have good friends who hates summer. One told me her favourite four seasons are Winter, Winter, Winter, and Winter. She gets hot—overheated—easily, but tolerates cold very well. She hates bugs. She hates sweat. She grows a garden to save on food costs, but doesn’t enjoy the endless planting, weeding, watering, and harvesting. She hates getting into the hot car in the summer sun, and searing her lungs when she breathes in. A potluck in the summer inevitably includes wasps, ants, sticky drinks spilled on sandaled feet…
She loves having the fireplace going and a cup of hot chocolate to hold while she’s reading on a quiet winter evening. She loves the wonder of the first (and second, and third…) snowfall, the delicate dance of snowflakes drifting through the glow of a streetlight, the quiet restfulness of nature in hibernation, the energizing chill of the air, watching the kids across the road make a snowman, the ripple of water under ice in the creeks near her home.
I love living in a place where we get to experience each season in such clear and vivid ways. And I love having friends who remind me what there is to love about each season—and that no season is without its own drawbacks.
Being part of community helps us with other matters of perspective as well. We naturally assume that our views are the correct ones; if we didn’t think they were correct, we would change them. If we think to wonder about our assumptions and views at all, we like to think that we’re somehow ‘in the know’ and have the 'real' understanding of the situation in question. It’s good, then, to have friends and community members around to give their views, to ask us questions or even challenge us about ours, to present another perspective.
Often, others have read the same books or lived similar experiences, but have drawn different conclusions. This can feel challenging when we are in discussion, but it’s a good learning opportunity. If we take seriously God’s call to humility and love, we can together see a bigger picture and come closer to the truth.
Thank God today for the people in your life who can encourage you to grow, who add the richness of diverse opinions and stories, who are for you the community that brings you closer to the Truth.
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6