Fall has always been my favorite season of the year. I like the crispness of the air and I look forward to autumn activities like apple picking and yes, I always enjoyed back to school. For so many of us, fall is the beginning of new activities and programs in churches, schools and the community.
For the first 50 years of my life I lived in climates with definite seasonal change. I knew when it was winter, spring and summer because there were clear markers. And those markers were often weather related. Each season also brings holidays and events that are only in those seasons. Winter brings Christmas and hopefully snow. Spring brings Easter and hopefully beautiful flowers. Summer is July 1st or 4th, depending on your country, and family BBQs and hot weather.
Living in Haiti has taught me something about the passing of time. I am one of those people who mark time by the changing of the seasons. Recently I was asked about an event that happened several months back and I was trying to remember when that was. I clearly remember the event but I couldn’t even begin to place the month it occurred in. I had no seasonal context around the event. The weather in Haiti is pretty consistent. It is sunny and warm; pretty much every day. Sometimes it rains at night. Rarely does it rain during the day. But I can always count on sun and heat.
Without the changing of the seasons and the snow, falling leaves, spring showers, or summer flowers, I apparently can’t keep track of time. Plants and trees do go through cycles here. However, it is not always the same cycle. Right now in our yard, the Almond tree is dropping brown leaves. But the Calabas tree is not. The Granadia vine has fruit but the Sitwon Tree does not. So, there is no rhyme or reason for the seasons and I have no seasonal context for events like I used to have.
Why do I mention this? Who cares if I can’t remember when something happened?
Our family is now 2 ½ years into living in Haiti. And almost every day little things that make a huge difference catch me off guard. There are things I used to count on to help me live… and I just can’t count on those anymore. There were so many supports in place for our family in Canada; spiritual nourishment within a loving church family, extended family members who engaged us all in fun and fellowship, date nights for Robin and myself, extra-curricula activities for Peterson and Gaëlle to help them develop and grow, and I could go on and on. But there is a danger when I focus on the past and those supports that I used to count on.
In 2017 one of the most meaningful passages to Robin and myself was Isaiah 43:14-21. After reminding the Jewish people in Babylonian captivity that He is the Holy One, God reminds them of how he freed them from their previous Egyptian captivity.
But then He tells them to forget all of that.
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the desert. Isaiah 43:18-19
This doesn’t mean we forget what God did for us in the past. But it’s a caution that we can miss how God is working today and we can undervalue what He is doing for us now, when we just focus on the past and the way God worked in the past.
God used this message last year as we continued to adjust to cross cultural living. As we looked to the past and the great things God did for us and wondered how we would manage here without those supports.
But our prayer as a family is that no matter what, we will continue to trust God. We will continue to put one foot in front of the other as God leads us. And as we continue to acclimate to life in Haiti, we will continue to shed those practices that helped us in Canada but have no place here in Haiti. And as we grieve, we will also celebrate God’s goodness and faithfulness.
Do you use the seasons to help you mark time?
What practices helped you in the past but have no place in your current life?