Here we are in summer, there are murmurs of entitlement (“we certainly deserve this!”) and satisfaction (“what a gorgeous day…You got THAT right!”) and there is relief that at long last we can relax, refresh and renew. It’s odd to me that human beings whom are made for a Creation that includes four seasons seem to opt for the hottest, warmest, brightest one. Are autumn, winter and spring like our appendix, something we needed in some primal state but now that we have evolved we find ourselves shedding them at every opportunity?
My wife does not enjoy the summer. She hates the heat. When we lived in southern Ontario she would find the shadiest place in the house she could and hunker down like the hermit she is, with a cool beverage and breeze from some nearby window. She literally counts down the days to autumn, her favorite season (mine too). Autumn should be the most depressing season, after all it is the season of death. Those fall leaves we all love to see are dead leaves, the colours mask what is really going on. But as I age I am increasingly OK with the concept of autumn, not just the effect. Things do have a life cycle and it is OK to let go. And Creation teaches us that there can be something beautiful about that letting go, when we witness life in its last stages coming into full bloom, full flight, vibrant and alive. In a way the manifestation of all that we have learned, experienced and found in our lives can bring us to vivid colours and joy.
Winter is supposed to be to saddest season of all, short days, dark, fallow time for plant life, cold, there can be emerge feelings of separation from life. But what I have learned from my friends who study psychology is that there is much going on beneath the surface. The unconscious plays a much larger role in our identity than we are willing to admit. Exploring what lies beneath is a rich time of exploration for all of us. The winter season is a time of reflection, contemplation, evaluation. I have found the winter the time when I am ready to face what needs to die in my life to make room for something new. The winter is the time for me to let go, let what is emerging come to life. The winter can be, often is, a very liberating season.
Kim and I agree that the one thing we truly miss about southern Ontario was the springtime. As Nova Scotians we associate the spring with slushy roads, ice, dog poop thawing, just a royal mess! Springtime in Nova Scotia is not pretty. It’s easily our least favorite season. But having lived in southern Ontario I think we witnessed what spring is supposed to do for the human spirit, bring new life. Watching the mountains of snow in Ottawa and Toronto evaporate and be replaced with shoots of green, flowers, green tree leaves emerging, buds suddenly filled with colour one could not help but feel optimism and anticipation about what is coming.
Which bring us back to summer. What is summer for? What lesson is Creation trying to teach us during these warm, sunny and long days? I think there is something to the notion of colour and vibrancy. I know two women who have lived through tough times in their lives, much tougher than anything I have experienced. Both women told me that wearing bright colours gave them the confidence that something good and life-giving can and does occur every day. The bright colours were a manifestation of their joy, even for only a moment, and their confidence it would happen. Time can heal, but so can basking in the light of new life and full growth. When we witness the tree in bloom, the plant in ripe colour, the grass bright green, the sky clear and blue and long-lasting, we know what beauty means and what beauty does.
Rather than murmur about what we are entitled to, rather than privilege summer exclusively for its warmth, rather than numb ourselves with a blanket on a beach, why not be open to what every season brings and give thanks to the Creator who offers these lessons?