A time for every purpose

The September sunrise filters into our bedroom one morning. Along with the golden light comes a wave of nostalgia and suddenly I’m transported back to the early years of our marriage. 

We started out in an old, one and a half storey farmhouse. The upstairs windows were only about a foot above the floors, so I could literally lie in bed and look across the yard. I loved to watch the dawn illuminate the lawn and garden. An ancient maple tree stood tall in the fence line, and bore silent witness to the changing seasons year after year. The bare branches of winter sprouted buds in spring, which then bloomed into full green leaves. When autumn winds blew, the colours changed and then the leaves dropped, leaving only those bare branches and a hope for the new life coming again. 

Now Jack stands by our current bedroom window, fascinated with what he sees. “You need to look at this,” he says.

“Wow!” is all I can say as I stand beside him. I have a limited vocabulary before coffee, but I’m drinking in the splendour in front of me. A thick blanket of low-lying fog has swallowed the field across the road, transforming it into a roiling fairytale lake. Tree tops poke out above the mist, like random islands here and there. The road runs like a pewter dike along the edge. The intense glow of the not yet risen sun creates an incandescent backdrop.

Nostalgia train
Ten minutes later the Cinderella scene is gone. Only a wispy ribbon of fog lingers on the horizon. The sun is now a crimson ball hanging in the sky. It’s still beautiful, but the magic has disappeared. The nostalgia train, however, is still rolling.

Throughout the day I think back on my childhood, my parents, my brother, my friends. I recall long evenings of hide and seek with the neighbourhood kids. We all had to go home “when the streetlights came on.” I think of school days, summer jobs, my first car, going to work as a young adult, meeting Jack, raising kids, having grandkids. Weddings, birthdays, graduations, funerals – special milestones marking the accumulation of ordinary days. Farm life and family times, it all just keeps pouring out in fits and spurts of blessed memory. I’m quite sure the fact that I’m reading Ecclesiastes has something to do with these unexpected (but not unwelcome) remembrances.

God’s favour is now
Each season held its own special joys, as well as specific challenges. Had it been up to me I likely wouldn’t have moved on from any of them into the next one. But time waits for no one, as they say. The Christian recognizes time as a tool in Almighty hands, used to prod us relentlessly through this wilderness, showing us what we’re really made of and shaping us into what we were meant to be. Far from morbid resignation, it gives me purpose and comfort to know that there’s more to life than just the passage of time.

I walk to the mailbox. The flower gardens are fading fast. Tinges of orange and yellow in the trees remind me of glorious colours yet to come. A wall of corn, 10 feet high, hedges the laneway. I’ve spent the summer watching it grow from tiny shoots poking through the soil into a leafy fortress encircling the farm. Thanks to plenty of rain, each plant bears large cobs. But until those mighty stalks shrivel and the leaves wither and die, harvest can’t happen. And harvest is the whole point of the crop.

Change is inevitable and necessary and (ultimately) good. It wafts in on the breeze and permeates the air. I see it in the mirror. I feel it in my bones. And I’m okay with that. Solomon reminds me, “Do not say, ‘Why were the old days better than these?’ For it is not wise to ask such questions.” 

Further on I read, “Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now that God favours what you do” (Eccl. 9:7). 

Harvest approaches – a season to be thankful, thoughtful and purposeful. Amen!

  • Heidi VanderSlikke lives on a farm in Mapleton Township with her husband Jack. They share their home with a gigantic Golden Retriever named Norton, who thinks he's a lap dog. Heidi and Jack have three happily married children and seven delightful grandkids.

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