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The beauty of the seasons in nature and aging . . .

There’s just something about a stark, lonely tree in the sparkling snow. A contrast of barren branches laying against the pristine white backdrop of snow with light bouncing off the ice crystals make a simple yet majestic scene.

It’s a different kind of beauty than the other seasons bring. Spring gives a burst of color as the tulips, daffodils and lilacs bloom. Summer ushers in lush green hues. And of course the warm, golden shades of autumn give us that last spicy surge of color before the desolate greys settle in.

Sometimes we get so wrapped up in an idea of what beauty is supposed to be that we can miss the more subtle splendor of a less adorned package. Every season is beautiful and we all have our favorite, but not as many people can see the beauty of winter. For some they can’t see past the cold, others don’t want to think about driving in the snow and yet others find beauty in the colors of autumn and spring more to their taste.

I was speaking to a group of women in their 40’s and 50’s a few years ago and asked them what they feared most. I was shocked to hear nearly ¾’s of them say that their biggest fear was being invisible. I asked them to explain what they meant by that, I didn’t understand it at first. Although they each verbalized it in a different way, it basically came down to the fear of not being seen or having a voice that was heard in a world that classifies beauty as youth.

I work in aging services and I can tell you there is beauty in every age. Like the seasons of nature, we too have different seasons of beauty.

A baby’s beauty is in the perfection of their chubby little cheeks and sparkling eyes. If spring makes our heart sing with the exquisite pastels after a grey season, a baby’s laughter has that same effect on us, new and fresh.

A pre-teen’s beauty in that awkward time just before they blossom reminds me of a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. While it doesn’t offer the same breathtaking colors of spring, it does offer it’s own splendor in how it flourishes.

A young mom’s beauty shines through her love for her family. The magnificent warmth of that zesty season of life that is often a favorite because it offers so much variety.

Someone in their 70’s brings a more simple beauty in the lines of their face that come from years of experience and wisdom. Their beauty intensifies as you hear their stories from a time and world that is gone but not forgotten.

There are many elder women of the Bible, but my favorite is Anna. A spiritual woman of great age yet living in complete faith and hope of her savior. She had been serving God with fasting and prayer for years and now she thanked God for this gift and told anyone who would listen about the “redemption of Jerusalem.” I don’t know what Anna looked like, but I can imagine the exquisite joy of this moment would only enhance her beauty as she smiled thanking God as she basked in seeing the Messiah.

Far too many of us can’t see the beauty of an aging woman and what she has to offer, but I think aging beauty is like winter. It may not be as colorful as the other seasons of their life but there is something majestic about a face lined with laughter, memories and wisdom that calms my soul and warms my heart; much like that barren tree standing alone against the sparkling, pristine snow.

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