Listening Through The Seasons


This past year, the idea of seasons moved from an analogy for life, into my everyday, lived out story. It was no longer this distant parallel, but one I was living and breathing.


Each year, as if it's the first time, I am completely marveled by the little sprouts that emerge from the early seeds I sow in trays indoors. I'm awestruck at how, year after year, these seedlings rest, in the dark, quiet depths of the soil--and then as if on command, make their appearance. From one day to the next, small hints of bright, green stems peer from beneath the soil's surface. I imagine that if I linger long enough, I could witness the growth with my own eyes. It seems to happen so quickly and effortlessly.

My 2018 began in the brightness of spring--of discovering we were expecting our first child. Spring began in those early days of anticipating new life, of eminent change coming, of growth and stretching. Those days can be awkward, much like the tiny new sprouts finding their legs in the soil and building strength day after day in the sunshine and hydration.  


As spring was slipping into summer, we were scorched by the news of a fatal diagnosis for our little life. June 4th was a day where time stood still. In one moment, everything changed. So many of the whispered anticipations of hearing our son's first laugh, the millions of little delights in getting to know him, all came to a shattering halt. Weeks came and went, doctors appointments were frequent. Hard news after hard news. We were never sure how many more minutes or days he would be with us. Each day was a gift--like summertime is. The days are longer, meals can be shared outside, and there's a general joy in the freedom and adventure that summer invites.


We watched as summer storms came and went, as the days slowly became shorter. The summer began to fade into autumn. The last bright flicker of aspens turned brown and the earth started to settle from its vibrant summery display into more muted tones. We were being prepared for life to fade.

On September 6th, we discovered that our son's heart had slowly tired and Jesus had received him. He was born stillborn the next evening--and in that darkest night of our autumn, we held our lifeless son and somehow witnessed life. There are hardly words for it all. We will never be the same. The holiness of experiencing life and death so closely woven, is something that never leaves you.

Much like the year's seasons, in a span of a few hours, I felt myself being moved through life into death and into life again--a cycle I had to surrender myself to. In a matter of minutes, I sensed the shape of my heart altered. Stretched. Expanded. Filled. Emptied. Broken. Filled again. Surrounded. Utterly broken. 


What still lingers in my heart, even seven months later, is the great silence that filled the room when we held our son. Sacred, hushed, and fragile. Those few hours of introducing him to family and friends, sharing communion and then saying our last goodbyes—it was holy ground—the kind that makes you wonder about heaven. 

In the months following the loss of our son, we have, in more ways than one, entered winter. And although there are signs of spring now, in many ways, winter is still present. Snow still falls, the ground is still hard and cold. It feels much like a desert--no life to behold just yet. But the Scriptures are relentless in their imagery of rivers rushing into low places, of manna in the desert, of streams coming to fill the cracked ground, of once fallow ground, once again producing abundant harvest.

So we wait. And we listen.

I'm learning to listen to what He's so clearly intentioned in the earth--in the natural processes of the ground. It's our blueprint. In the death of one thing, there is new life being birthed. This seems to be the mysterious paradox we are all caught in. And one I don't imagine understanding until I stand before Him. This great paradox of the world's heartbreak, death and loss, intermingled with the hope of His resurrection and life. The paradox of autumn's decayed leaves being forced off branches by new buds. The paradox of winter's lulled silence and simultaneously the life that is secretly being cultivated deep in the soil. These opposites are held together, they coexist in a mysterious unity. And we have only to look and listen.

If I don't stop to listen, I may miss it.

Yet, the miracle of it all is that He's gracious enough to bring me back to my autumn, and then my winter and my spring, then summer, year after year.

Luisa Ellis is a wife, mother, creative and lover of cultivating spaces that invite others into creativity. After the loss of their son Bennett Anders in September 2018, and out of their love for woodworking and hosting, Luisa and her husband Brent started the anders collective. When Luisa is not pretending to be an experienced gardener, she can be found scheming ways to make home feel more like home—for her family and those around her.

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