"Many a one will ask: How can winter, when nature can rather be likened to death, where instead of warmth as the source of all life, cold, synonymous with death, prevails, how can winter be likened to the lively nature of a child who overflows with life?
And yet, my dear doubter, there is no better example than this one comparing the child’s life with winter which shows, linked through a spiritual bond, the corresponding trait in the child’s nature.
Just wait a little, My friend, and I shall describe to you the seemingly dead winter as very much alive, as warm as the child’s life. However, we will not consider the matter from the standpoint usually adopted by your winters and poets but from My standpoint from which I prefer to consider it after My own manner. So listen:
Look, My friend, when you compare with it the entire vegetative life of childhood and its soul-life, it is, as I said, a dream-life, a life where the good and bad, all that is right and wrong still sleeps the sound sleep of unawareness of Self under the cover of innocence. For only that condition is called innocence where one is unaware of having committed a sin and also knows none; for with the realization of innocence the same has ceased to exist.
Just as in this dream-life of the child where, as in an embryo, all the passions and other urges, covered up, are peacefully sleeping together only waiting for the better condition of the body enveloping them so that they may grow strong and develop – look, My dear friend, what an apt comparison and how close spiritually! – there lies asleep, buried under the white covering of the snow (for white is the color of innocence) – the whole future existence of part of the earth. It is only waiting for a higher power, the warmth of the sun, to lift and destroy this covering of innocence, freeing the thousands upon thousands of life forms so that every one of them can operate according to its purpose and fulfill its destiny.
Just as with the child’s physical development good and bad qualities become more apparent, so when nature awakens on earth, the effect of peaceful and hostile influences shows. At first, like the child’s passions, dwelling peacefully together under the icy cover of the snow, they separate, fighting and quarreling, and amid constant conflict face spring or a better time where everything alive on this earth grows stronger and able to resist the battle of the elements and other influences, bearing the same victoriously.
In spring everything unconsciously hastens to meet its destiny. The little plant grows into a little tree and prepares everything so as to one day fulfill its purpose as a tree and animals build dwellings for their brood without knowing where it will come from. Everything is active and working; destruction and new beginning, change of form and new birth are the task of the earth globe. It is its time of youth which often produces monsters and secondary growths which do not belong to the normal cycle and are later eliminated, just as in the case of the youth his silly pranks and frivolous mistakes (the so-called “teens’).
Thus in the awakening spring, nature, like the youth with rosy cheeks, garlands itself with the most beautiful flowers and slowly moves towards manhood, the period of the maturing of the fruits, which, according to the intent of the Creator, is meant to result from the pressing up and urging of the spring.
Summer, or the age of manhood, is already hotter. Man’s brow drips with sweat as he works for his daily bread. The fruit-bearing tree often lacks the water or the moisture to nourish its children, the leaves and fruits, and mature the latter.
Often man, just as hopeless, drops his tired arms like the tree drooping its leaves; a gale, a hailstorm snatches away its children, the laboriously produced fruits.
Man is robbed through illnesses of his offspring, his helpmate. And where both, man and tree, no longer expect comfort and help, often a gale piles up clouds of blessing and rain. The latter pours down in streams onto the thirsty fields and meadows, fructifies and moistens the languishing nature and cleanses the air, and look, the never-lost vitality of nature again enlivens all beings. The storm is weathered; many things are lost and have to be replaced by a thousand other things.
When man, bent down by disaster, no longer knows what to do, when the whole religious edifice built perhaps from youth on has broken down with the storm of fate, a light spark begins to gleam in the east. At first it is a little star, then it rises higher and higher, grows bigger, becomes a sun, the sun of grace with My image in the center and surrounded by My teaching in the form of a pencil of rays, illuminates the unhappy heart of the man, pouring gentle comfort and light into his heart and allows perhaps for the first time the sorely tried to feel the spiritual foretaste of heaven, of a divine love.
The man stands up, understands the graciousness of his Father and blesses the blows struck him by fate, which after all had no other purpose but to lead him into the arms of Him who long ago opened them wide to receive him but who knew no other way of achieving it than by a seeming misfortune.
Thus the man matures towards old age, just as the tree ripens its fruits in autumn. Finally, autumn arrives. The forces of nature, during the winter dormant beneath the blanket of snow, which in spring wakened everything to a new life, in summer were active to lead everything towards its destiny, towards autumn have spent themselves, have become tired after having fulfilled their purpose and again go to sleep.
The leaves are falling, the tree, usually standing in luxuriant profusion, loses its outer form and, soon but a framework and skeleton, it shows the foundation which had borne all that it had brought forth, but the beautiful color, the freshness of life is gone. The tree is at rest so as to take up its next task in another year, perhaps in greater perfection than in the preceding one or, conversely, approaching its dissolution into other elements.
This applies likewise to the man, and gradually he approaches old age. His energy and the ability to make quick decisions begin to wane, the facial color changes, the graying of the hair (indicative of a withdrawal of the iron in the blood, as a carrier of activity) becomes increasingly pronounced. The outer world becomes more and more closed and the old man begins an inner life, like the tree in autumn, whose circulation of the renewed saps also stops, followed by a slower inner activity hidden from the human eye.
So the tree awaits its designation for the following year, depending upon its task, namely, whether it shall be burnt as firewood, serve other purposes or, perhaps grafted, as a tree yielding better and finer fruits, shall again provide man with physical and spiritual pleasures, the physical through its material products and the spiritual through his contemplation of the immensely good Creator and Lord.
All the fruits and products of the entire nature, serving the living beings as food, pass through their various uses to a higher spiritual level, for they serve towards the preservation of higher beings, enhance their material-physical nature and help to perfect their Spiritual.
What fruits are with the products of the earth, are with men their actions. They help the one standing at the close of his earthly life to build his spiritual self and to guide him to a higher level.
What I have told you here concerning the kingdoms of plants and animals as well as man in his four periods of life can also be applied to entire peoples and nations.
They too have their phases of childhood, youth, manhood and old age and are gradually led by Me through disasters, wars, devastating sicknesses and various other events until, having reached their spiritual pinnacle, they can singly as individuals or as whole nations pass to higher spheres. This depends on their propensity to follow My advice and admonitions whereby one people will mature earlier, another later.
Here you have the second row of our title – winter, spring, summer and autumn. Now we will rise to a higher standpoint and from there, like Me, contemplate My Creation in its graded working where you may again still more clearly behold My love and also My wisdom, which is only concerned with the happiness of My created beings!" (Secrets of life, chap. 7)
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