Ken Shaw

A few weeks ago, I looked out of my office window and saw hundreds of robins foraging across our campus; I had learned many years ago that robins were a sign that winter would soon be over and spring would quickly arrive. For me, spring started to sink in when I saw the first bluebonnets along the roadway; however, it is still hard for me to believe it is spring because of the recent intense memories of below zero temperatures, six inches of snow, rolling blackouts and water disruptions. 

I love the spring with the cool mornings and the lovely daytime temperatures. I always enjoy seeing the early blossoms of jonquils, daffodils, Bradford pear and redbud trees; it reminds me of stanzas three and four of the poem by Wordsworth, entitled, “Lines Written in Early Spring.”

Through primrose tufts, in that green bower,

The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;

And ’tis my faith that every flower

Enjoys the air it breathes.

The birds around me hopped and played,

Their thoughts I cannot measure:—

But the least motion which they made

It seemed a thrill of pleasure…

The spring season is my favorite time of year as life seems to emanate everywhere — families enjoying a picnic, couples walking hand-in-hand strolling around the pond and parents watching their children playing baseball.

As a new season is unfolding before us, I am reminded of a short story I read recently entitled “Four Seasons of a Tree.” 

There was a man who had four sons. He wanted his sons to learn not to judge things too quickly. So he sent them each on a quest, in turn, to go and look at a pear tree that was a great distance away. The first son went in the winter, the second in the spring, the third in summer and the youngest son in the fall.

When they had all gone and come back, he called them together to describe what they had seen. The first son said that the tree was ugly, bent and twisted. The second son said no — it was covered with green buds and full of promise. The third son disagreed; he said it was laden with blossoms that smelled so sweet and looked so beautiful, it was the most graceful thing he had ever seen. The last son disagreed with all of them; he said it was ripe and drooping with fruit, full of life and fulfillment.

The man then explained to his sons that they were all right, because they had each seen but only one season in the tree’s life. He told them that you cannot judge a tree, or a person, by only one season and that the essence of who they are — and the pleasure, joy and love that come from that life — can only be measured at the end, when all the seasons are complete.

If you give up when it’s winter, you will miss the promise of your spring, the beauty of your summer, fulfillment of your fall. Don’t let the pain of one season destroy the joy of all the rest. Don’t judge life by one difficult season. Persevere throughout the difficult patches and better times are sure to come some time or later.

As I reflected on this story, my thoughts turned to our students and the seasons of their academic experience. From the excitement of the beginning of school, through the trials of quizzes and exams and dealing with COVID-19, to the joys of excelling in a class and the fulfillment of completing their degrees, each season has its challenges and its blessings, its highs and its lows.

As we transition into this wonderful spring season, I pray that we can appreciate the experiences of the past, persevere through our current challenges and look forward to a spring season of amazing blessings God has in store for us.

Dr. Ken Shaw is president of Southwestern Adventist University.

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