I slouched in the front seat of the parked van, nauseous out of my mind.
It was just after sunrise. It was the only place at our staff retreat I could go to escape the New Zealand winter. To dodge that drizzling rain. And to be alone.
(Turns out I really should have refilled that vitamin supplement my doctor prescribed).
And to match my waves of nausea, the waves of grief came, too.
Is this really my last week with YWAM Furnace? It’s been four years. I mean, eight years in New Zealand, too. What is going on?
As the tears rolled on in, so did the doubts.
What am I doing? Why am I leaving? Is this really the right time?
That’s when I saw the tree. A little maple, bordering the car park. Despite being two and a half months into winter, crusty brown leaves clung to the lower branches. And at the tip of every branch, little buds were forming, too.
I was actually mad for a second. Why are there still old leaves? It’s almost spring. This is ridiculous.
But as per usual, my anger wasn’t really directed outward, but at myself.
I didn’t grow up with seasons. “Endless summer” in Hawaii sounds great in theory. But when it came to understanding the complexity of seasons and their transitions—I didn’t get it.
So when it came to understanding my own seasons and major transitions—I thought it should be like scene-changes in a movie. One season finishes. The next one flashes to the screen. Simple, right?
So I was mad at a tree in New Zealand because it reminded me of my life. Not simple.
That week, I made it through the daily nausea and the goodbyes (and got myself some vitamins again). The following Sunday night, I found myself at church. The message title? I’m Ready to Say Goodbye. I was choking up already.
“Endings give way to awkward in-between times that are longer than we expect,” Joel Milgate explained.
Something in me melted.
No matter how much I wanted my life to be in neat little boxes, it’s just not life. Sometimes summer delays. Sometimes autumn lingers. Sometimes spring is so muddled with winter that you don’t know which is which.
But that’s what makes it beautiful, right?
Since then, I’ve spotted dozens of trees around Tauranga, still holding crusty leaves. I’ve also driven past dozens bursting into bloom. And some trees? A bit of both.
And every time, it’s a reminder that transitions are far more complex and beautiful than I expect them to be.
Because two seasons can be on one tree.