BY BILL SALVADOR
Until my late twenties, I had not experienced the four seasons. I grew up in the tropics where there were only two seasons: hot and hotter (or wet and wetter, as others would suggest). When our family moved to this country in my mid-teens we settled down in Southern California, the land of endless summer and perpetual sunshine. Yes, I visited places with four seasons, but I had not experienced the year-to-year cycle and rhythm of changing seasons.
It was only when I moved to Berrien Springs, Michigan, for a couple years that I truly experienced the transition of one season into another and its effect on one’s psyche: the feeling of the air getting crisper as trees turn yellow, gold and red, shedding leaves to reveal their bare-branched silhouette in the fall; the anticipation of the first snow flurries and the first snowfall that marks the arrival of winter; the fresh sprouts of green and sudden bursts of color that erase the memory of slushy, dirty snow and punctuates the emergence of spring; then the shedding of multi-layered clothing, and the increasing heat and humidity that ushers in summer.
Perhaps because we do not have these natural markers of the changing seasons, I appreciate our (flexible and loose) observance of the Christian calendar or liturgical year here at this church. Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, Epiphany, Pentecost—these, like the events that mark the seasons in nature, provide a rhythm for our lives, and give us tools to reflect on our spiritual journeys, both individual and corporate.
That is not to say we are left out completely in observing the natural effects of the seasons here in Hollywood and Los Angeles. We do have opportunities to see nature do its thing to mark the seasons—but it may require a little extra effort. I especially look forward to “spring” Southern California style, although here, Spring may extend from February, when the rolling hills of our golden state turn green and the coastal wild flowers bloom, to March and April when a quick trip to the poppy fields in Lancaster or the high desert in Joshua Tree burst forth with the most indulgent display of colors, to July and August in the high Sierras, when the melting snow pack and glaciers create awe-inspiring vistas of lakes, pools and rivulets criss-crossing flower-studded alpine meadows.
According to the Christian calendar, this week is the Fourth Sabbath of Easter. Perhaps that is meaningful to you, perhaps not. But somewhere in California, there is spring—a time of new growth, new buds, new blooms, new nests, new life. Take time to reflect, it is not just nature that needs renewal. We, too, must be born again.