Good Zeal

Handling Transitions

New wild hydrangea leaves “Like sands through the hourglass, these are the days of our lives.” This kind of sums up several Scripture passages I have been pondering lately. One of these passages is from Ecclesiastes 3:1-12 which begins, “There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens.” This passage also brings to mind the 1960’s song by the Byrds “Turn, Turn, Turn.” There is a season for everything, and life just keeps moving forward from one season to the next.

It is the lesser known verses of this familiar text (3:9-13) that have drawn my attention. Here’s a paraphrased summary: What profit have workers from their toil? I have seen the business that God has given to mortals to be busied about. God has made everything appropriate to its time but has put the timeless into their hearts so they cannot find out, from beginning to end, the work which God has done through them. I recognized that there is nothing better than to rejoice and to do well during life. Moreover, that all can… enjoy the good of their toil – this is a gift of God.
I never would have imagined that when I began my life of ministry over five decades ago that I would become an elementary school teacher and principal, earn my Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) diploma to care for infirm sisters, work in adult faith formation, serve as sub-prioress, lead my sisters for two terms as prioress, and then serve as a pastoral associate. And now, I find myself nearing the completion of another “season” of ministry, joyfully anticipating the unknown of what is to come as I return to full-time residency back at Sacred Heart Monastery.
The transitions between the seasons of life are significant. The way in which we draw closure from one season impacts the way in which we enter into the next one. In spite of the flurry of activity that often comes with transitions, it is important to pause, reflect, and intentionally reflect on the moment—to be fully in the moment of transition.

This is the time of year when graduations are happening, weddings for June are being planned, and other significant life changes tend to happen for people. We have transitioned from Lent to Easter and will transition back into Ordinary Time in a little more than four weeks away. Spring has been in full gear and is racing quickly toward the warmth and humidity of a southern summer. So, it is a good time of year for anyone to stop and reflect on how one approaches and deals with transitions in one’s own life.

Am I able to recognize the feelings I experience during times of transition? Grief? Anxiety? Fear? Loneliness? Joy? A sense of accomplishment? Excitement? Anticipation? Hope?

Whatever our feelings might be about transitioning from one season of life to another, it is important to remember that God’s sovereignty encompasses all of it—past, present, and future. God comforts, strengthens, protects, guides, and listens eagerly to all of our hopes and dreams, our fears and concerns. The trajectory of our lives is always into the loving arms of God, no matter the season.

By Sister Janet Marie Flemming, OSB

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