Loving the seasons...
One of the many blessings of being in this part of the woods is the profound shift of the seasons. To be sure, it still jars me that it can be pitch black at 4:30 pm for part of the year - and I am still sometimes overwhelmed by the intense and nearly oppressive grey that haunts part of the winter days - and at the same time I have also come to love and cherish the movement of the seasons. Gertrud Mueller-Nelson has written:
I am not sure that we modern people are any more comfortable with time (than our ancient ancestors) even if we are preoccupied with it. Our lives no longer follow the path of the sun or the pull of the moon. We can light up our nights and darken our days as we will. We can eat strawberries in the dead of winter if we want. Taming nature, however, cannot eliminate the questions that all of us still have to ask ourselves from time to time: "Who am I and where am I going?" We are a restless and uncertain people...
I often felt this restlessness more in the desert sun than here. In some ways the warmth of Arizona -and the convenience of air-conditioning - means that you never have to think of the weather or the seasons before acting. Not so here where there is still a natural, albeit modified, rhythm to life. Today, for example, was a snow day. We had 15 inches of snow fall in less than 24 hours. Now these people know how to move the snow around and clear the road - and by midday you could get out the grocery store if necessary - but almost everything else was closed - as it should be. This is a day for being quiet and reflecting - staying warm and thinking - sipping tea and remembering your place within the grand scope of life that stops for no one.
One way I try to stay connected to that rhythm - and reflection - is by photographing what it looks like outside my study window. These images are little icons of one of the ways God is speaking to me in my ordinary life. And if I honor what God is saying, often my restlessness is diminished. But I have to pay attention.
The the late John O'Donohue uses the seasons to capture something of the sacred in a poem he calls "The Eyes of Jesus."
I imagine the eyes of Jesus
Were harvest brown,
The light of their gazing
Suffused with the seasons:
The shadow of winter,
The mind of spring,
The blues of summer,
And amber of harvest.
A gaze that is perfect sister
To the kindness that dwells
In his beautiful hands.
The eyes of Jesus gaze on us,
Stirring in the heart's clay
The confidence of seasons
That never lose their way to harvest.
This gaze knows the signature
Of our heartbeat, the first glimmer
From the dawn that dreamed our minds,
The crevices where thoughts grow
Long before the longing in the bone
Sends them toward the mind's eye
The artistry of the emptiness
That knows to slow the hunger
Of outside things until they weave
Into the twilight side of the heart,
A gaze full of all that is still future
Looking out for us to glimpse
The jeweled light in winter stone,
Quickening the eyes that look at us
To see through to where words
Are blind to say what we would love,
Forever falling softly on our face,
His gaze plies the soul with light,
Laying down a luminous layer
Beneath our brief and brittle days
Until the appointed dawn comes
Assured and harvest deft
To unravel the last black know
And we are back home in the house
That we have never left.