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Throughout our lives, we go through seasons of crisis and victory, of progress and failure, and of happiness and heartache.
We also mark the passage of time by the changes we see in the four seasons: spring, summer, fall, and winter. What if the spiritual seasons of our lives have a connection to these astronomical seasons?
Every physical transformation that happens to the Earth in each cyclical season in the world is symbolic. There is a spiritual meaning for every personal change happening inside us. The Baha'i writings say:
In this material world time has cycles; places change through alternating seasons, and for souls there are progress, retrogression and education. At one time it is the season of spring; at another it is the season of autumn; and again it is the season of summer or the season of winter.
The Meaning of Our Spiritual Spring Season
Baha'is believe that the spring season is especially significant for our spiritual renewal and rejuvenation. Abdu'l-Baha, one of the central figures of the Baha’i Faith, said, “The season of spring with its hosts of freshness and beauty spreads its tent on the plains and mountains with great pomp and magnificence.”
He also explained that the “form of the creatures is renewed, and the creation of beings begins afresh; bodies grow and develop, the plains and wildernesses become green and fertile, trees bring forth blossoms, and the spring of last year returns in the utmost fullness and glory.”
As the Earth “finds a new spirit, and produces endless beauty, grace and freshness,” as Abdu'l-Baha said, so are we infused with a new life and invigorated with a new spirit.
The Baha'i writings say, when the prophets of God appear in this world, humanity reaches a “spiritual springtime.” This means that:
Spirits are quickened; hearts are refreshed and invigorated; souls become good; existence is set in motion; human realities are gladdened, and grow and develop in good qualities and perfections. General progress is achieved and revival takes place, for it is the day of resurrection, the time of excitement and ferment, and the season of bliss, of joy and of intense rapture.
So, spring is a great time to adopt a fresh, positive outlook, set new and motivating goals, and declutter our inner and outer lives from every negative attachment and habit hindering us from spiritually growing and prospering.
The Spiritual Meaning of Our Summer Season
After spring comes summer, which is a meaningful time of spiritual progress where we can enjoy the fruits of our labors and reap what we have sown in the past year. The sun’s healing and restoring rays only become hotter as our “growth and development attain their greatest power. The energy of life in the vegetable kingdom reaches to the degree of perfection, the fruit appears, and the time of harvest ripens,” Abdu'l-Baha explained.
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Abdu’l-Baha also noted that when humanity reaches its spiritual summer:
The word of God is exalted, the Law of God is promulgated; all things reach perfection. The heavenly table is spread, the holy breezes perfume the East and the West, the teachings of God conquer the world, men become educated, praiseworthy results are produced, universal progress appears in the world of humanity, and the divine bounties surround all things.
The Spiritual Meaning of Our Autumn Season
Depending on the climate where you live, in the fall, the temperature starts to drop and summer’s vibrant green leaves become more rustic with red, orange, and yellow hues. Gardens begin to wither, the flowers lose their fragrance, and the air becomes more harsh and chilly. Abdu'l-Baha described the season of autumn as “tumultuous” when “when unwholesome and sterile winds blow.” He said “it is the season of sickness, when all things are withered, and the balmy air is vitiated.”
When we become spiritually sick, our strength, energy, and drive leaves us. This fall season signifies the periods in our lives where we may have started to retrogress, stop making advancements in the pursuit of our goals, or lose sight of what is important in life.
When humanity is in a spiritual autumn season, our collective “growth and development are arrested” as the Baha'i writings say.
Breezes change into blighting winds, and the unwholesome season dissipates the beauty and freshness of the gardens, plains and bowers—that is to say, attraction and goodwill do not remain, divine qualities are changed, the radiance of hearts is dimmed, the spirituality of souls is altered, virtues are replaced by vices, and holiness and purity disappear.
Only the name of the Religion of God remains, and the exoteric forms of the divine teachings. The foundations of the Religion of God are destroyed and annihilated, and nothing but forms and customs exist. Divisions appear, firmness is changed into instability, and spirits become dead; hearts languish, souls become inert…
The Meaning of Our Spiritual Winter Season
Before we know it, it’s “the season of winter, with cold and tempests. It snows, rains, hails, storms, thunders and lightens, freezes and congeals; all plants die, and animals languish and are wretched.”
Baha'is believe that when humanity reaches a spiritual winter, “the coldness of ignorance envelops the world, and the darkness of human error prevails. After this come indifference, disobedience, inconsiderateness, indolence, baseness, animal instincts and the coldness and insensibility of stones. It is like the season of winter when the terrestrial globe, deprived of the effect of the heat of the sun, becomes desolate and dreary.”
On an individual level, the winter season is also spiritually meaningful and representative of the tests and hardships that we all go through in our lives. But no matter how trying these tribulations can be, they are meant to make us spiritually strong. As long as we learn and grow from these tests, perfect our character, and make the necessary adjustments in our lives, we will be able to spiritually thrive once again.
Unless the season of winter appear, thunder roll, lightening flash, snow and rain fall, hail and frost descend and the intensity of cold execute its command, the season of the soul-refreshing spring would not come, the fragrant breeze would not waft, the moderation of temperature would not be realized, the roses and hyacinths would not grow, the surface of the heart would not become a delectable paradise, the trees would not bloom, neither would they bring forth fruits and leaves.
So, if you ever find yourself in a spiritual winter, remember to have patience with yourself and faith in your future springtime — your time to strive to better yourself and the world. These seasons teach us that our spiritual health is never idle. If we stop growing spiritually, that’s when we start regressing. As Abdu'l-Baha said, “The spiritual cycles of the Sun of Reality are like the cycles of the material sun: they are always revolving and being renewed.”