Essays on Faith: It takes both laughter and tears to move through life

God made a perfect plan when He gave us time and seasons. He declared that the time and seasons should remain so long as the earth remained. Your time on earth matters and His timing is perfect. Be sure to watch for the parts of His plan that apply to you. Time and seasons are in God’s hands. We need to trust that He knows when and what is best.

Whatever the reason, I’m feeling a little sentimental today. The changing seasons always affect me this way. Although I was born in April, I’m quite certain that I wasn’t fully awake until October. But sadly, this lovely month is always too short for me. It vanishes like the morning mist, leaving me with a feeling of discontent.

However, though I miss my favorite month, November is pleasant, too. Traces of orange, yellow and red — more vibrant in some areas than others — still linger on the hillsides that I pass in my daily travels.

Once lush green trees that now appear sparse stand at attention like soldiers on each side of the highway and sunbeams steal their way around the few remaining leaves and dapple a pleasing design on the blacktop.

A two-story farmhouse, at least a hundred years old, stands proudly on its now barren land, yellow sun reflecting off its metal roof. I see rolling hills, a weathered barn, a silo and stacks of corn in the background; an old plow rests in the foreground.

Black and white spotted cows graze casually, giving one the feeling they’ve always been there. Of course cattle, unlike people, couldn’t care less about seasons. A few newer brick ranchers are finally beginning to take on a look of permanence as they age and appear less out of place than they once did.

Not only is this autumn scene as lovely as an American Gothic painting, but it also foretells a restful period. Everything slows down and we have time to relax, at least until it’s time to prepare for our traditional Thanksgiving feast ... followed by Christmas shopping, baking, decorating and all the joys of the holiday season.

It seems to me that every year passes a little faster than the last. Perhaps that’s only because I’m getting older. I believe we learn to appreciate things more as we age. As youngsters, teenagers and young adults, we’re so busy living our lives that we hardly have time to notice the beauty around us, let alone appreciate it!

Sometime in my late 20s, after I’d already been blessed with a family, it occurred to me that time was passing much too quickly. In my desire to record my feelings for posterity, I wrote a poem. I can’t say with any degree of certainty, but I’m guessing it was a day such as this, when emotions were running high.

A Ghost from the Past

Somewhere in the shadowy beauty of a summer’s day,

lingering in the humid air like a morning fog

lives a lovely memory of summers past.

Of barefoot days and carefree ways--

of reveling in the wonder of God’s perfect creation

without really noticing;

certain that youth would always be mine.

But as all things pass, so passes youth — and now I am

mired in a world of cares — with no time to enjoy

the miracle I once took for granted.

Yet the memory lurks there still, calling to me

like a ghost from the past;

I cannot go back –

Ah, would that I could!

•••

As I ponder life’s different phases, I consider what it might be like if some things were reversed. Imagine having the patience and appreciation when we’re young that we’ve gained by the time we’re in our mid-50s. Wouldn’t that be fine? And how much better behaved would our children be if we had them later in life when we have more patience?

Many times, I watched my father’s reaction when he focused on an infant, a small child or, in fact, anyone under the age of 40. He’d grin, move his head slowly from side to side and say, “I’d give anything to be that age and know what I know now.”

How many of us have wished we’d known long ago what we know now so we could have done things differently? But, sadly, it’s impossible to know when we’re young all the things we learn as we travel through life.

Not surprisingly, much is learned from the mistakes we make.

Life is made up of both laughter and tears. Sometimes it seems as though we won’t make it through, but in the end, we learn, we grow, and hopefully, we wind up loving each other.

Let us not go through life saying, “If only I’d known then ...”

Peggy Toney Horton lives in Nitro.

Essays on Faith may be submitted to gazette@wvgazettemail.com.

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Funerals for Sunday, December 8, 2019

Board, Dencil - 3 p.m., Curry Funeral Home, Alum Creek.

Booher, Hughes - 3 p.m., Maranatha Fellowship, St. Albans.

Carpenter, Homer - 2 p.m., Hafer Funeral Home, Elkview.

Collins, Jacob - 2 p.m., Morris Funeral Home, Cowen.

Donahue-Moubray, Kathleen - 3 p.m., Haven of Rest Mausoleum, Red House.

Estes, Peggy - 2 p.m., Chapman Funeral Home, Hurricane.

Friel, Ruth - 1 p.m., Lantz Funeral Home, Buckeye.

Johnson, Marvin - 1 p.m., High Lawn Mausoleum, Oak Hill.

Linville, Vada - 2 p.m., Orchard Hills Memory Gardens, Yawkey.

Pettit, Michele - 3:30 p.m., Faith Baptist Church, Spencer.

Prue, Margaret - 2 p.m., Handley Funeral Home, Danville.

Scott, Robert - 3 p.m., Capital High School, Charleston.

Smith, Wanda - 3 p.m., Billy Hunt Cemetery, Kettle Road.

Sneed, Virginia - 2 p.m., Waybright Funeral Home, Ripley.