This is the time of year when I feel like a fraud. This is the season when my personal mantra of “live in the NOW and celebrate this moment” doesn’t spring from felt conviction…It seems I have to get behind it and SHOVE it forth, this sluggish belief, wondering when the ole gal took on so many extra pounds. It’s not officially autumn yet, and already the melancholy is setting in. Why? Though a professed lover of nature, I DO NOT LIKE WINTER.
Maybe it’s my addiction to prismatic experience. In summer, the senses are assaulted by myriad hues riding the backs of Summer Tanagers and slathered over the satin surfaces of roses and kaleidoscopic insect wings. You don’t have to search for it, you can’t even HIDE from it. It’s surrounds you like skin, holding in blood and sinew, a part of you.
Yeah, sure, I understand (intellectually) the cyclical nature of the earth, how death necessitates rebirth, yada, yada… But I FEEL it about as much as one feels the 10th consecutive recitation of “Hail Mary…” It’s ritualistic at that point, thought without heart. (My apologies to those whose experience is otherwise).
That said, this post is a personal lecture. These are the points I want to make to my Seasonally-Affected Disordered Self:
A) Regarding nature, winter just means you have to look a little harder, search a little deeper for delight. Think of it like a geocache… takes some sweat to locate the thing, but the “goodies” inside are always a surprise, so make it a game.
B) Take advantage of the silence. Yes, you’ll miss the soft calls of those blue-gray gnat-catchers, the throaty “garr-rump!” of the frogs… but if spring, summer, fall are urgent, often ecstatical Prayer, then winter is a quiet Listening for the Answer. As Rumi suggested, “Try and be a sheet of paper with nothing on it. Be a spot of ground where nothing is growing, where something might be planted; a seed, possibly, from the Absolute.” Take walks alone, without your I-Pod, your I-Phone, your I-Mac, or your I-Anything (and even — dare I say it? your CAMERA) and just see what happens. Forgetting clocks and calendars, take Grace on its own terms, in it’s own time and chosen form.
C) Learn to let go. I know you grieve the leaving of these PARTICULAR flowers and insects. Attachment, though, is not the equivalent of love. Trust that the Universe is functioning as it should, unfolding at perfect speed and precision. Events, relationships, careers – like nature — are marching in and out of your life according to perfect, Divine Order, and each passing fords the way for another to enter. To hold on, stubbornly tugging at one who is being led away, is to wound both them and you. Trust your dear creatures, both the human and animal kind, to their own path.
D) You get what you need, when you need it. Have faith in the process. Are you not like a barn cat, shamelessly rubbing your soul against the Divine, asking for what you didn’t’ earn? But God is ever willing, is He/She not, (and so often through the soft glove of Nature), to scratch that divine itch, press Its body near to yours, simply to hear you purrrrr.
E) Lastly, remember that the hushing of all that summer din affords air space for your own gratitude solo. Fill the quiet places with THAT. Let it fall in with the floating autumn leaves, let it fill the spaces in the trees that the warblers have vacated. Cover the icy lake with it where the Great White Egret used to feed, scatter it like seed on frozen ground…. You’ll be surprised what’ll grow…come Spring.
So this, friends, was my pathos and my pep-talk, my purging and my prayer. I’m closing it like Emily Dickinson, the Belle of Amherst, did her poem-prayer “Summer Obsequies” so many years ago,
“In the name of the Bee,
and of the Butterfly,
and of the Breeze,