Seasonal Dysfunction

Outside my apartment, spring blossoms and fall foliage compete for right of place.

San Francisco is trying to teach me something.  Or rather, God is trying to teach me something through my experience here.

In the Midwest, where I grew up, there are four distinct seasons.  Each season has its hallmarks–robins and crocuses in the spring, a certain slant to the light in autumn, etc.–and each follows the others in predictable succession.  Not so in San Francisco.

As I write this, it is the second day of October.  And it is hot.  Hot and sunny.  I’m wearing a tank top and sandals and drinking iced chai.  It’s summertime in my world today.

But last week, it was autumn.  It was grey and cold and vaguely rainy.  I bought a pumpkin to make pumpkin pie and a pair of knee-high argyle socks to wear under my fall boots.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring?  It could be another cooker like today, or it could be rainy and cold, or somewhere in between.  In San Francisco, you never know.

And I’m learning to love it.  It’s been hard for me in the past, all this seasonal dysfunction.  I have always been a planner, and it’s hard to plan in a city like this.  What will I wear tomorrow–a summery dress, a fall jacket, gloves and a balaclava?(Okay, it rarely gets that cold here, but once in awhile that ocean wind is killer!)  What will I want to eat? Fish tacos and a margarita on the patio, or chicken-noodle soup and a hunk of warm, fresh-baked bread next to the space heater?

But I’m learning to embrace all this uncertainty, learning to take pleasure in the surprise that each day brings.  Maybe I don’t know what season it will be tomorrow, maybe I can’t pack away my warm-weather clothes when the leaves start to fall or plan my dinner menus a month in advance.  But I’m discovering that there is a freedom in living one day at a time, in limiting how much I can plan for the future.

Because, for me at least, planning for the future usually involves some measure of worrying about the future.  “Will I have enough money to pay for new brakes for the car and my son’s preschool tuition next month?” “What will I do if my mom’s health takes a turn for the worse and I have to go back to Ohio for a month or more?”  “Are we going to miss out on the perfect condo if I don’t fill out the pre-approval forms in time?”  Once I get started, it’s endless.  Of course, worrying about my wardrobe and my dinner menus is not the same as worrying about finances or my mom’s health.  But by learning to surrender in the small areas, I find that it’s a little easier to trust in the big things as well.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus reminds us to take today, and leave the rest to Him:

 If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with gettingso you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. –Matthew 6:30-34 (from The Message version of the Bible)

It’s hard to rest in God.  Even as I write this, I am struggling with it.  But I’m not giving up, and I believe that tomorrow will be better than today, whatever season it turns out to be.