The world is built on rhythm. Day turns into night and then night turns into day. We have always been able to depend on that. Whatever the day has brought, we can begin again the next morning. Alcoholics Anonymous goes by the motto of “One day at a time.” Following a rhythm brings new life.
The seasons come in order every year. Winter, spring, summer and fall. We can depend on it. Each has its own personality. Winter, a chilly time, a time to be inside. A time for fires in the fireplace, hot chocolate, good books and introspection. Spring, a time of new growth and welcome color. A time for bike rides, gardening, baseball and Little League. Summer, a time for swimming and ice cream. A time of backyard barbecues, visiting with neighbors and maybe a vacation trip. And then fall. A time of brilliantly colored trees (maybe not in Texas). Leaves to rake and football games and warm jackets. And then winter again. The rhythm continues.
Trouble happens when we do not accept the season we are in. If we insist on going outdoors in winter in our bathing suit, we will probably catch cold or worse. If we walk around in a heavy coat in summer, we won’t last long in the sweltering heat of Texas. The key is to be totally present to the season in which we find ourselves. Unhappiness comes when we try to rush into the next season or refuse to leave behind a favorite one. Let us be present to the cold of winter, the newness of spring, the long days of summer and the fading colors and falling leaves of autumn.
We are upended right now. The whole year of COVID has run together. We haven’t been able to do our “regular” things. Have we really already had summer and fall and it is winter again? We have lost our rhythm—the rhythm we have always depended upon.
And so our challenge is to create a new rhythm. How do we be totally present to this season we have been given? How do we be present to the tragic numbers of COVID and at the same time be present to the gift of our own life? How do we hold mourning in one hand and gratitude in the other? Just as we each have our own Circadian rhythm that gives us life, we each have to find our own new rhythm in this time when all the seasons run together. Maybe for some of us, we have found time to look inward at those things from which we usually run. Maybe others have found a new joy in spending more time with their families. Maybe others have found a new focus in cooking food for others or helping provide blankets to keep the homeless warm.
Winter is still with us. The number of new COVID cases and deaths are still rising. But, as I write this, a nurse of Jamaican descent in a hospital in Queens has just received the first vaccination given. We can see that spring will indeed come again! We can see light appearing at the end of the long tunnel that has been this year of winter in our lives. Let us keep the hope of spring in our hearts. But we are still in winter! Let us wear our masks and social distance and wash our hands yet another time! Let us be totally present to this winter so that the coming spring might be a glorious one!