It is November, and green blades stand defiantly in a sea of crunched brown grass on the Canadian prairies. Green at this time of year is usually claimed solely by the mighty evergreens that represent our northern climate. This year, El Niño has graced our autumn with unseasonably warm weather, and while scraping frost from my windshield in minus 15-degree Celsius mornings isn’t particularly missed, my life seems to be overflowing with unseasonables. This has left me craving familiarity.
What are these unseasonables, these unwelcomed and unexpected endurances? My volunteering is uncharacteristically stressful. Our extended family is experiencing surprising and heartbreaking tensions. Our immediate family is drowning in unseasonable busyness from both extracurriculars and work. The puppy we were expecting to get in the springtime arrived here at the brink of winter instead.
With these changes, the comforts of what was to be expected during this time of year are missing.
The beginning of fall had held all the hopes of being a predictable and, thus, successful season. I had fitness goals. I had familial, relational, occupational, and spiritual goals. The mildness of the weather teases me with the prospect that all my chaos can find resolution and I can go back to achieving my goals. El Niño makes me think that perhaps time has stood still. The snow has not fallen. The cold has not arrived to entrap us indoors. Winter is still far away. My goals and resolutions can still be attained before it comes—or can they? Do they need to be?
There is a newness that I must adapt to that looks different from how this season was initially laid out. This challenges me the most. With all the change, I feel as though I’m in a labyrinth, unable to find the way towards success or resolution for any of the situations I find myself in.
The reality is that this season may not be one for resolution. There may not be an answer found or a project checked off from the to-do list. Time given by the mild weather is a facade. The mild weather does not mean that time has stood still. Winter is no farther away than it would be if snow was on the ground. If the weather were its normal minus 10-20 degrees, the chaos would not be any closer to resolution, nor would it be in any more danger of never finding resolution.
To move forward toward the end of the labyrinth, I need to accept that my goals and resolutions do not need to run along the timeline of the weather. Any sense of urgency I feel from the changing seasons or upcoming holidays does not mean that my expectations of myself need to change.
The grass can grow green in my yard, and I can enjoy it from the view of my window as I stand beside my Christmas tree. I can relish in the blessing that warmer weather allows me to train my puppy more effectively. At the same time, I can also lament that I must endure El Niño’s humidity that sticks to my skin and sinks into my bones. The warm weather does not mean that I need to take up running around the neighbourhood, but it can mean that I have the opportunity to go on another bike ride. With each day that snow stays off the ground, my walk up to my daughter’s school is effortless, and I can rest in that. I do not have to remain lost in the unexpected.
So, what happens to my goals? I may be surprised to find them being fulfilled as I navigate the maze of chaos that is my season of life right now. You never know what lessons will be revealed when you endure trials. But if I don’t meet my goals in the labyrinth, I can accept the unexpected and allow the goals to float on to the next season. They’ll be there waiting on the other side of winter—on the other side of the labyrinth—on the other side of victory over the chaos.