The scene is familiar. Anxious members of the animal kingdom have gathered at the appointed spot. Each species seems to have its own special area in which to gather. The sky is a beautiful crimson and gold. Everyone is looking up in anticipation toward the pinnacle of a mountain. As the music swells and the animals sway back and forth in time, the newly born lion cub is raised high and presented to the adoring crowd. The prince of the animal kingdom has been born and we all dance and celebrate and sing about “The Circle of Life.” If you have ever seen the opening to The Lion King, it didn’t take you long to figure out what I was describing.
But what is this circle of life? And how does it play out in our lives?
The writer of Ecclesiastes tells us “There is a time for everything and a season for every purpose under heaven.” As of late, my season has been one of loss and mourning. The circle of life continued its journey through my family as we buried my mother a few weeks ago. We watched over a few short months as her body, with its brittle bones began to break and become ill. When you compounded the physical illness with the deep grief of losing her husband of 68 years, it just became too much to bear for her.
Since her death and subsequent funeral, I have been thrust back into the throes of a busy tax season. I have felt profound loneliness as my children left my home and returned to their lives. I have already experienced a first holiday (Easter) without either of my parents, and I have begun to ask questions like, “what now, God?” The circle of life naturally follows the arc of our grown children flying from the nest and trying out those new wings. Yes, the circle even includes the eventuality that we will bury those we love, that friendships and relationships will ebb and flow and possibly end. We must accept the reality that there truly are “seasons” in our lives. Sometimes those seasons aren’t pleasant. We begin to fully understand what the Apostle Paul meant when he talked about the Spirit praying for us when we simply don’t have the words to pray. Sometimes the hurt, the pain, the grief is just too much.
It would be my nature to “put on a happy face.” I have always thought that was what was expected of me. I am not going to do that this time. I will not wallow in self-pity or become reclusive, but I also will not rush through this season, this arc of the circle. For I believe there is something here to learn. I believe there is something here to embrace. My faith is just deep enough to believe that in this darkness and in this loneliness, God has a great word for me. And I want to hear what He has to say.
I also believe the circle will bring arcs of great joy to me again. New friendships, new passions, new loves, and just as there is a time to mourn, there will once again be a time to dance!