Thursday, October 01, 2015

Changing seasons: holding opposites together



It was 3 degrees C when we got up this morning -- a rude shock to the system! It may be a cliche (or just a coping mechanism) to say it, but it is nice to live in a country where there are distinct seasons. I don't think the green profusion of spring would seem quite so glorious if it didn't come after the long, cold, dormancy of winter. And it feels both bracing and comforting to snuggle up in a sweater and pull on warm socks in the fall, after the slothfulness of muggy summer weather.


Writer Parker Palmer has some interesting things to say about the cycle of changing seasons, and how they invite us to embrace, rather than fight against, extremes:

In a paradox, opposites do not negate each other – they cohere in mysterious unity at the heart of reality. Deeper still, they need each other for health, as my body needs to breathe in as well as breathe out. But in a culture that prefers the ease of either-or thinking to the complexities of paradox, we have a hard time holding opposites together. We want light without darkness, the glories of spring and summer without the demands of autumn and winter, and the Faustian bargains we make fail to sustain our lives. When we so fear the dark that we demand light around the clock, there can be only one result: artificial light that is glaring and graceless and, beyond its borders, a darkness that grows ever more terrifying as we try to hold it off.  Split off from each other, neither darkness nor light is fit for human habitation.  But if we allow the paradox of darkness and light to be, the two will conspire to bring wholeness and health to every living thing.  - Quoted from "Seasons: A Center for Renewal" (Parker Palmer)

I hadn't thought of the changing of seasons as an exercise in "holding opposites together," but it makes sense. It's also an exercise in embracing change. After all, the coldest winter day may be diametrically opposed to the hottest summer one, and bright noontime sun is opposite to middle-of-the-night darkness -- but in fact the transition from day to night, season to season, doesn't happen instantly. It's a gradual process.

I don't really like change; I like what's familiar and comfortable. But the cycle of seasons forces me -- or maybe invites me is a better phrase -- to embrace change. It also  reminds me I'm not in control (as if trying to make a little boy eat the breakfast he ordered and is now refusing didn't tell me that already). 

Seasons are one of the most significant signs of God's providence of "wholeness and health" in the world. So I guess the best thing to do is to embrace and enjoy them -- and keep the gloves handy.


(photo courtesy of freeimages.co.uk)

6 comments:

  1. So very true Jeannie, but I would have liked to keep the mugginess of summer just a little while longer.

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    1. I know, Sigga -- Charlie would come over to Dad's and we'd say "What are the ladies doing?" and he'd say "What do you think: sitting in the sun!" :-D

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  2. Lovely, thoughtful words, Jeannie.

    My son hates change, especially the seasons. He asks me over and over if I like 'the way it is now'. He worries and frets and worries and frets that things change every day. He has decided that he likes it when it gets dark early, so he's looking forward to that, but he's not looking forward to 2016 because he's 'only just got used to 2015'. Such is life with autism, as I'm sure you know ;-)

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    1. Yes, I do, Sandy. Thanks so much for commenting again - I always love hearing from you.

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  3. I don't like changes either, Jeannie. But I love, love, love the changing seasons! Cooler temperatures are good news for Texas. I was getting tired of hot weather...

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    1. I can only imagine! My brother & sister in law spent 2 years in Kansas and have now moved back to Canada & are living in the same city as us -- and loving the cooler weather. I think there are up sides to every season.

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