In a famous Greek myth, the fair maiden Persephone was gathering wildflowers one fine day--tra la, tra lee--when suddenly, the earth erupted with a thunderous blast.
And what to her wondering eyes should appear but a miniature sleigh and. . .oops, wrong story.
Up from the deep sprang Hades, god of the underworld. He was driving a sleek chariot drawn by coal-black steeds. Before the maiden could run away, Hades snatched her and carried her off to his dark abode.
|Hades and Persephone in the Underworld|
Demeter wandered the wide world searching for her child, but Persephone was nowhere to be found. At last the grieving mother climbed Mt. Olympus and pleaded with Zeus—king of the gods and, as it happened, father of Persephone.
Zeus sent his errand boy, Hermes, to bring the girl back to the Land of Light. But before Persephone left, Hades insisted that she eat something before the journey, and he held out a juicy red pomegranate.
|Demeter greets Persephone|
Everyone rejoiced when Hermes brought Persephone back to the outer world. Even the trees budded and the birds trilled. Her father and mother came running to greet her.
Demeter threw her arms around Persephone. “At last you are back where you belong, here in the sunlit fields, here with those who love you.”
But Zeus looked troubled. “No, something isn’t right. She has tasted the fruit of the underworld, and she belongs to that world now.”
Persephone could taste the pomegranate on her lips. Hades had tricked her.
Demeter cried bitterly. “You can’t send her back.”
Finally, Zeus made a decision. For six months of the year Persephone would live above ground, and for six months, below with Hades. And so this tale is said to explain the seasons of the earth.
I used to start dreading winter sometime in August. when the afternoon sun turned the soybean fields to gold, in a prelude to autumn. But when winter came, it really wasn't so dreadful after all. There's nothing quite like sipping hot cocoa while a beautiful snow scene fills the picture window.
Those of us who live in a climate of four seasons can learn something from this mythological character. What happened to Persephone was unwanted and unfair. But Persephone, who went to the underworld a frightened child, returned as a confidant queen—a queen for all seasons.
Every season has its beauties and its blessings. As the psalmist Asaph sang,
It was you who set all the boundaries of the earth;
you made both summer and winter. -- PS 74:17
And a great hymn proclaims, “Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest” all attest to the faithfulness, mercy, and love of our God.
We--children of the High King of Heaven--were created to reign in every season of life.