The following is a transcript from the Raised Catholic podcast. To listen to the podcast, click here.
Today is episode 23: ‘Tis the Season
Well, hey, friends. Did you ever have a word, a phrase, an object, or a song just call out to you in different places repeatedly on multiple occasions over a short period of time? Well, when this happens to me, I have learned that it’s the Holy Spirit asking me to pay attention somehow, so that’s precisely what I try to do. And this week, it was the word ‘season’ that made its way into my consciousness. I had heard a discussion on a podcast about how to season a cast iron pan. I came across articles all about the limited season of an oniony garlicky plant called ramps (by the way, go get yourself some ramps if you can – I’ll include the amazing recipes I made with them this week in today’s show notes). Well, I heard several other references to seasons in so many places that it got me thinking and reflecting about the spiritual implications of ‘season’ in all of its forms. This is a great way to pray, by the way, just letting the Holy Spirit inspire you to research and reflect on a word, a phrase, or a song, and what it means to your spirit. If you were born and raised Catholic, this is not likely a way that you were taught to pray, but I highly recommend this as a practice – it can feel like teaming up with God on a little adventure and one thing I have learned is true – life with God can actually be fun – imagine that!
Okay, so when we refer to seasons, we can think about liturgical seasons like Lent, Advent, or Easter. These are marked by specific practices and colors and they help us to tune in to particular spiritual truths. Or we can consider the seasons of some fruits, vegetables or flowers, like ramps or tulips, sports seasons, like basketball or soccer. There are the seasons of life – childhood, young adulthood, parenting, middle and older age. There are the four seasons of course – winter, spring, summer and fall. We can think about the season of a tv show, the planned arc of a story – and all of these point to the truth of timing which is a really important thing to think about when building a relationship with God.
All of those brings to mind that reading from Ecclesiastes – you know, the one that is so often read at funeral masses – that there is a time and a season to every matter under Heaven. You know, a time to be born and a time to die, plant and harvest, mourn and dance, weep and laugh, so much more. You know that reading I bet and if not, I will link to it in today’s show notes. But whether you’re thinking about Lent or tulips or basketball, middle age, spring, the last season of a tv show like LOST which – hot take – this is the best season ever of a tv show and I know, that’s a controversial statement that I am very happy to defend so please do message me if you like! But anyway, the seasons of all these things help us to remember that God has created a system of patterns that we can rely on. Spring will follow winter, life will follow death, there is a cycle to literally everything, and I personally find this such a comforting thing to know, and I wonder if you do, too.
We hear in the very first psalm that we who are connected to God are like trees planted by streams and that God will surely produce fruit from us in season. And I don’t know about you, but this really helps me to trust. I have planted and toiled in everything from my children to my preschool music classes to friendships to marriage to my writing, music ministry and this very podcast, but I don’t always see the fruit of my labor. I am reminded that in its season, God will produce fruit from it all. In the Book of Acts, it says that we are not to know the times or seasons that the Father has fixed by His own authority – this is a bit of a challenging teaching for someone who likes control as much as I do, but in the end, I know it’s not up to me. I can trust in God’s timing and season and when I do, I can truly rest in Him.
Okay, so what about the other definitions of ‘season’ – can we find spiritual truths in those as well? Oh, friend, I am so glad you asked. Get ready for some metaphors.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus Himself referred to seasoning by salt. He said we are the light of the world and the salt of the earth. And He warned us against losing our flavor, no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. I believe this is an important teaching for us today because ‘salty people’ are those who make others thirsty for God by our positive presence and our loving words and actions. It is literally our job as Christians to bring light and salt into this world to draw others closer to Him. So, how salty are your Church leaders these days and how about you and me? It’s a good thing to consider from time to time, don’t you think?
And, okay here’s another analogy:
When we season wood in order to make it good for burning, this takes time and requires patience (not one of my spiritual strengths, I don’t know about you) but the process is always worth it. More exposure to the sun and air makes firewood burn hotter and brighter – literally making light so others can find their way. Maybe we could consider how we are being seasoned by exposure to Jesus and to the Holy Spirit (get it – Son and Air) and how that seasoning will help us be light and comfort to other people, as we are being used and spent to further the Gospel – to help others feel the warmth of God.
This is not unlike the seasoning of a cast iron pan – the time and effort that feels like suffering actually makes our lives more useful and fruitful in the end. I spent more time than you may think possible contemplating the spiritual application of seasoning a cast iron pan this week, and it’s really a beautiful metaphor that I would like to end our time with today.
Okay, so a cast iron pan is solid and heavy. It can seem like it needs no maintenance whatsoever, but if you want it to be useful over a long span of time, it has got to be seasoned. And this can involve a few steps: usually scrubbing with a wire brush or with kosher salt, applying a thin layer of oil, and heating it for a good amount of time upside down in the oven and then letting it cool. The chemical reaction that results from that heat – well, it makes the pan more beautiful, deeper and richer in color. It makes food both more delicious and easier to release, and it gives it longer life and prevents rust.
And if we think of ourselves as a cast iron pan (hang in there with me here friends, I do love a good metaphor) well, if we are a cast iron pan, we can imagine the seasoning process as difficult, painful, and refining. I don’t know about you but, spiritually speaking, I don’t enjoy the times when I feel stripped or scrubbed by life’s circumstances. I have endured seasons like this and frankly, there were times that I didn’t know I would survive it. I have felt the heat of life transforming me into something new, something that would be more useful in the end, but the process was so scary because I could not see the end result. I was not in control. All of us who walk a Christian road will experience both the anointing of oil and the purpose and heat of trial – and this has been promised to us by Jesus Himself, and it’s sometimes all we can do to hang on, but I bet you know people – or maybe you are someone yourself – who has endured a trial, and now serves the Kingdom of God more deeply and beautifully as salt, light and refuge. As seasoning for a hurting world.
A seasoned cast iron pan is described as forgiving and resilient. Isn’t that interesting? And we can always re-season, can always remove the rust that might form in a time of spiritual neglect, and in a spiritual sense, we likely will endure more than one challenging time in our lives. It’s how we come through these seasons, how we use what we’ve learned that will tell our story moving forward. And though I wish it weren’t so, sometimes growth and change are only possible through the heat of the day.
I guess the biggest thing I took away from this week’s contemplation on the word ‘season’ is that it is always leading me somehow to trust. God has my seasons and those of my dear ones in His kind hand in a way that I can truly depend on. He is always working in my life toward growth, even when it’s painful, but there’s beauty in the knowledge of that, too. After all, there’s tulips, ramps, soccer, and good fruit that always comes in its time. Thanks be to God, we can always count on it.
Well friend, thanks so much for listening to today’s podcast. If you liked it, would you please share it with a friend, rate or review it wherever you’re listening to podcasts these days? I would really appreciate that. And I have lots of resources for you in today’s show notes and if you need me, you can always find me on Instagram @kerrycampbellwrites or on my blog at mylittleepiphanies.com. For now, here’s a blessing for you.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, amen.
God, our seasons are in Your kind hands. We trust that you bring good things to us and through us in each season and we entrust our lives to you – so make us salt and light in your world today.
We pray all of this in the name of Jesus, amen.
Okay friends, thanks so much for listening, and I’ll see you next time.