Nature seems to be having a tug of war between seasons in my area. Spring is slowly tugging harder, but winter does not want to let go, pulling back with harsh resistance. For one to three days, the weather is colder with sharp, Arctic air, high winds, rain or snow, and dreary skies. The next one to three days, the air is warmer, conditions are drier, and the sun is shining. The drastic changes have made for some challenging runs and bike rides, trying to decide how to dress, how long to stay out in the elements, and where to draw the fine line between determination and stupidity.
The high winds have caused many trees to lose branches or become uprooted. My grandmother used to say that the wind was God’s way of house cleaning. Given the winds and recent downpours of rain, I’d say God is getting a jump on spring cleaning, trying to wash away all the dust and dirt of winter, and maybe even trying to cleanse us in the process.
Observing the changes reminds me of inner struggles we face as we traverse the path of life. Some days are good, others we wish to forget, and still others fall somewhere in between. Our hearts and minds face difficult decisions, causing an inner angst that may make us restless, irritable, or very uncertain. As time goes by, we work our way through the details to reach a resolution.
Like the seasons, our hearts and minds may play tug of war, calling on emotions and facts to give strength to either side of the battle. Our conscience acts as a mediator, trying to reach a compromise or a peace treaty. Our faith adds hope to the struggle, but not always on the side our bodies wish to win. Perhaps this is one of the reasons I enjoy the season of Lent so much. My focus turns more to my faith and what I should do. I try to block out the drama and craziness of life by spending more time reading scripture, volunteering, or helping others. Giving my time allows me to receive the rewards of knowing a difference is being made, albeit a very small one.
Seeds of Potential and Numbers
Though the difference I am making is small, it has potential. Just like seeds planted in the spring, the little things I do can grow into bigger things if cultivated and nourished properly. The shoots of the emerging bulbs and leaves opening from the buds on the trees all start small. They take their time, growing as nature allows. Perhaps this is a lesson we can use in our lives, taking one step at a time, trying to remain patient with ourselves and each other (easier said than done, I know), and accepting the challenge of the endurance required.
As humans, we have a natural tendency to quantify everything, be it small, large, or otherwise. We have units of measurement for time, money, energy, etc. All these units are counted in some way, usually given a numeric value, and graded on a scale of some sort. The grade determines the value or worth of what we are measuring.
While the numbers do tell us much, they don’t tell us the whole story. The value determined by the number may not be the true value. We must use our analytical skills, asking who, what, when, where, how, and why in order to gain insight and understanding. Breaking down the analysis into parts allows us to digest the information. In a way, this is the reverse process of seeds growing. Instead of starting small and growing, we take the bigger chunk and break it down into pieces.
Scientific Methods in Nature and Faith
This method of breaking down reminds me of the scientific method, which I learned years ago in grade school science classes. The scientific method is a systematic way of learning about the world. The steps to the method include:
- Collect information, make observations, and ask questions
- Formulate a hypothesis , or suggested solution or explanation
- Design an experiment to test the hypothesis
- Conduct the experiment
- Observe the results
- Compare the results to the hypothesis
- Draw conclusions
We use this method or parts of it almost every day in life to solve problems, understand changes, and learn. Often, we can draw on nature to help us with the steps. Observing the sun, moon, stars, plants, trees, and animals offers us a means to collect information and ask questions. What we observe can help us formulate a hypothesis, give us ideas on how to conduct an experiment, and offer comparisons to our hypothesis, allowing us to draw conclusions.
We may also draw upon the Bible to help us through the steps of the method. Reading the passages, contemplating the messages in the passages, and asking ourselves questions about what we are reading allow us to formulate a hypothesis. We can take what we interpret from the readings and share this knowledge with others, or apply it to our own situations as our experiment. How others respond or how we respond can help prove or disprove our hypothesis, as well as draw conclusions to be used in later in life.
Learning is Growing
Whether we use nature or the Bible as our information source, we are gaining knowledge and strength, as well as character and perspective. These elements are both acquired and earned as we go through the process. They also allow us to resolve the tugs of war we experience.
Sometimes the experiences we have in gaining knowledge are difficult. We may make mistakes, have difficulty understanding, and not be able to relate to the information. What we often fail to see when having such difficulty is the positive side to struggling. If life was simple and without hardship, we would not fully appreciate it.
God places struggles before us to help strengthen and guide us. Yes, His ways are unorthodox and sometimes hidden in tiny details. However, His desire is for us to grow and to keep Him as our focus. The only way to do these things is to experience the good, bad, pretty, ugly, joyful, sorrowful, and everything in between. We are His seeds, planted with potential, watered by His faith in us, and nurtured with His love.
Signs of Growth
As with any seeds, we need some help, and often that help comes in small packages or doses. For example, the minutes of each day give us time, the changes in daylight give us guidance, and the faith we have gives us hope.
The seeds in the ground often get help from many different tiny organisms. One of the seed helpers is the earthworm, which as it moves through the ground helps to aerate the soil. The full moon of March was named the Full Worm Moon by the Native American Indians because March was the time when the earth worms started moving after the winter cold. Though I doubt the worms will be moving in the predicted 32°F weather in my area for the full moon on March 12, I do believe the worms will emerge once daylight savings time has passed and the tug of war between seasons is done.
May the methods we use to resolve our internal tugs of war allow us to grow and build strength for the journey. May what we learn and share regarding our struggles help others along the way, and may the changing seasons offer us opportunities to see the many blessings granted to us in the little things we encounter each day.
A little science, a little faith,
A little light to lead the way,
A little hope from
A little glow of the moon above,
A little bud upon the tree,
A little shoot pushing up to see
The changing of the seasons coming around
In nature’s ways without a sound.
A little word, a little time,
A little voice heard deep inside,
A little prayer on bended knees,
A little shared, more received,
A little learned on the way,
A little earned by God’s grace
To feed the spirit and nourish the soul
Allowing one to see as time unfolds.
A little lost, a little gained,
A little taught, a little restrained,
A little love, a little hope,
A little step up on life’s road,
A little rain, a little sun,
A little faith in heaven above
Moving through the moments of time
To a place of peace on the other side.
-Lisa A. Wisniewski
Resources and Related Links
Daylight savings time – https://www.timeanddate.com/time/change/usa?year=2017
Full Worm Moon – http://www.almanac.com/content/full-moon-names
Numbers don’t tell whole story – https://bats.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/25/when-statistics-dont-tell-the-whole-story/
Scientific method – https://www.britannica.com/science/scientific-method