Predictable and yet ever new, the cycling of beauty and fruition, the presence of thorns and the dirt under my fingernails together corroborate the peaceful truth that heaven and earth conspire in declaring the glory of God.

Loving and Listening to God in Every Season

In every season, my garden speaks, reinforcing in leaf and humus Scripture’s messages around patience and diligence, inviting me to rejoice with the arrival of every cucumber and blazing pumpkin and to lament with the erect skeletons of sunflowers, their heads bowed at season’s end. Predictable and yet ever new, the cycling of beauty and fruition, the presence of thorns and the dirt under my fingernails together corroborate the peaceful truth that heaven and earth conspire in declaring the glory of God.

That is the message of All Shall Be Well by Catherine McNiel, in which she shares the trajectory of her own awakening to God’s presence in his messy, abundant world. Her observations pay tribute to every season in its turn:

Find spring on a walk outside, coupled with a look inside.

Spring is the season of thawing hope and widening light. It invites us to look despair in the face and to trust for joy because God is present in the clouds that obscure our view. Spring-hope whispers that if you listen with your heart, you will hear God’s voice rejoicing over you with singing.

McNiel’s spring tonic is a prescription to take in the beauty with all your senses–the aroma of green and the sound of wetness–and to make a celebratory list of all the gifts of the season.

Find summer with wide open eyes that take in the night stars on a sultry evening or the power of wind and lightening during a storm.

The season of abundant fruition, summer is also the season of toil. Long daylight stretches faithfulness thin and makes demands that remind us of how cushy our life is in other seasons. McNiel interjects the concept of telos–a Greek word that means “end purpose” or “goal” (68)–to tame summer’s crashing pandemonium. Flourishing in the midst of the buzz and brouhaha of summer requires clarity of purpose and a mindful stewarding of our faithfulness.

Find autumn by celebrating the advancing darkness with candles and twinkling lights.

In all its bright beauty and generous harvest, autumn whispers a gentle warning. While we celebrate with pumpkin carving and corn mazes, McNiel reminds twenty-first century readers that harvest carried a dire significance just a couple generations ago–and still does in many parts of the world–for abundant fall harvest is the only way to eat and live through a long, bleak winter.

The curriculum of autumn assures us that death is transformation, that letting go of the old makes room for something new; and the twilight hours are for resting, pondering, and deepening as the light gives way to darkness.

Find winter in every season by making room for rest.

God’s creative work in winter is quiet as a blanket of snow and dangerous as sub-zero air. McNiel warns readers of the futility of trying to “overcome dormancy… mutinously straining to move forward anyway.” (131) In winter, we celebrate the arrival of snow with hot chocolate and snowmen, maybe to protect our hearts from the knowledge that cabin fever will set in come February as the glory of whiteness begins to feel like wilderness living.

Celebrating every sign of life and giving thanks for the borrowed strength that comes from God and others, we are called in winter to exercise faith that endurance is not for nothing, and that a long slog through a bleak season may require good traveling companions who carry and sustain us with their presence and their love.

Predictable and yet ever new, the cycling of beauty and fruition, the presence of thorns and the dirt under my fingernails together corroborate the peaceful truth that heaven and earth conspire in declaring the glory of God.Because I love to greet each new season with joy, I will be keeping All Shall Be Well handy for, like its author, I hear God inviting me to come near in their unique beauty, and “I’d like to get better at meeting him halfway.” (32)

 

Many thanks to NavPress for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which, of course, is offered freely and with honesty.

Because “all manner of things shall be most well,”


I  am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees. If you should decide to purchase All Shall Be Well: Awakening to God’s Presence in His Messy, Abundant World, simply click on the title within the text, and you’ll be taken directly to Amazon. If you decide to buy, I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

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Michele Morin

Michele Morin is a teacher, blogger, reader, and gardener who finds joy in sitting at a table surrounded by women with open Bibles. She has been married to an unreasonably patient husband for nearly 30 years, and together they have four sons, two daughters-in-love, two grandchildren, and one lazy St. Bernard. Michele loves hot tea and well-crafted sentences, poems that stop her in her tracks and days at the ocean with the whole family. She laments biblical illiteracy and advocates for the prudent use of “little minutes.” She blogs at Living Our Days, and you can connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

53 thoughts on “Loving and Listening to God in Every Season”

  1. This sounds like a must-read, Michele. I love the idea of living our spiritual lives in accordance with the natural cycles of the year. Right now, we are in a season of “abundant fruition”, my favorite. Thank you for the wonderful review. You make every book so appealing! How do you have time to read them all and still have a productive garden?

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  2. Oh winter… I do find I enjoy those first few cold days and the snuggles, fires, and warmth of inside but for sure I am experiencing cabin fever by February and March is just downright dreary. But those sunny warm days of spring thaw and summer play are wonderful and I love those crisp cool fall days! Thanks so much for sharing with us at Encouraging Hearts and Home. Pinned.

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  3. Praise God for seasons–the variety of weather and scenery, the comforting familiarity of the cycle, and the lessons each one teaches. My husband and I lived in Florida for forty years, but returned to the Midwest for retirement where our older son and his family settled. I am soaking up the seasons and appreciating them in ways I never did during my growing-up years. This book sounds delightful, turning seasonal observations into instruction and worship!

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  4. I do so enjoy the seasons. Each one has specific joys we must appreciate. I always enjoy fall and winter. Winter especially for its time of recharging. Thanks for linking up.

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  5. What a refreshing post!
    Refreshed is my word for August and through God’s grace I am finding it all around me. — through nature, photos and fellow bloggers.

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  6. I have so much love for this – the descriptions sound so poetic and it’s something I often ponder as the seasons change.

    #thatfridaylinky

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  7. This sounds like a book I would love. One of my favorite devotional books is “Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life” by Chuck Swindoll. Each season – both in nature and life – has much to teach us, if we but take notice.

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  8. Awww, Michele, I love this “take” on gardening and seasons. I agree with you, though I’ve been gardening for a few years now, each summer, it’s kind of a new thing. This year, I had to plant late, but once it warmed up, the plants sprouted up quickly. I’ve harvested some zucchini, peas, and have green tomatoes waiting to ripen. And, maybe we’ll get some cucumbers and watermelon out of it this year too.

    This seems to describe where I am in life right now”

    “Flourishing in the midst of the buzz and brouhaha of summer requires clarity of purpose and a mindful stewarding of our faithfulness.”

    Lots of boy-busy-ness makes it hard to flourish some days. But, we have to choose that, don’t we?

    Great post!

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    1. Yes, clarity of purpose helps us to sort out ALL the strands as we grab the ones that fit and reject those that don’t. And I really believe that we need God the Holy Spirit in order to do this well and consistently.
      Always so good to get an update from you, Jeanne.

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  9. I like the analogy of the seasons here Michele. I love the seasons! I’m so glad God created them and I am equally glad I live in a place where we get to enjoy all four! I like the comparison to the seasons of life as well. Every season is special in its own unique way.

    Thanks for linking up at InstaEncouragements!

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  10. What a beautiful post and a lovely way to look at the seasons! I especially enjoyed where you spoke about the candles in the autumn! That is one of my favorite things about the fall. The smell of pumpkin and candles lit with the house decorated for fall!! I love that time of year!! Thank you so much for linking up @worthbeyondrubies! I shared your post as well!

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    1. I also have a soft spot in my heart for autumn! The vivid colors and all the gratitude that comes with harvest and gathering family together are the perfect balance for the melancholy that comes with the end of beautiful summer.

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