As I photographed this glorious butterfly sipping the last nectar of summer, its invitation to focus led me to also take a shot of my inner landscape. Only a few days ago the excitement of biting into my second spring was filling me with excitement and anticipation, and yet I now found myself adrift in a blurry picture of sorrow mixed with gratitude and joy. There I stood, newly confirmed in the community of empty nesters, feeling both elation at my children’s independence and sadness at their absence, swinging between the highs of mature freedom and the lows of returned aloneness. All. At. Once.
The Bible tells us, “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens…a time to weep and a time to laugh…a time to mourn and a time to dance…” (Ecclesiastes 3: 1-5). As wilting flowers easily yield to the fiery shades of autumn, I’m wondering what we, transient beings, are supposed to do when we come to realize that all times, all seasons, move upon and through us at once. We laugh and cry in the same sentence; in our hearts flow both hope and grief; our lives sing the songs of the dead and the living. Everything is right now, in this instant of potential and regret, in this breath of opening and closing.
Like winter’s ice protects the triumph of summer’s blooms, like fall’s bounty feeds the promises of spring, we each harbor every one of life’s seasons. When we open to them with acceptance and reverence, without forcing their presence or wishing for their retreat, we get to feel there’s enough space for them all. Always. Pain doesn’t negate joy. Bliss is not meant to erase heartache. Emptiness doesn’t cancel the wonder of belonging. Together they shape the true form of human experience at any given time. Together they gift us with a depth of perception and a longing for more. When we finally choose to own the richness and echoes of this truth, we are offered a chance to taste what it means to be whole, authentic, and without end.
“He has also set eternity in their hearts…” – (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
Maryse Godet Copans © 2015