I will not argue with you when you remark on the difficult long winter, the cold that continues or the inches of March snowfall. But don’t be surprised if I don’t agree with you either, at least not with your moans of suffering and disgust, even judgment. It seems to me that to see the weather as bad or winter as too long is to attempt to manage our experience of what is unmanageable, and to not find the liberation that 12 step programs assure us is to be found in our deep acceptance of our powerlessness over much of life, certainly the weather. To name it bad or good, right or wrong is to push away the living of it, the being with it, and indeed to miss the experience of it, right now, just like this. Winter dragging. Spring only visible on my wall calendar.
We were reminded at FMUU this past Sunday, by visiting pastor Rev. Dr. Nancy Holden and Bill Thomas and Ron Seager that Spring is about hope, the promise of warmth and flowers and green grass under our bare feet. Spring is a chance to live the transition to all that loveliness, and the process it requires. It is also something onto itself, something manifest and interesting and real. It’s 30 degrees today, the sun is shining and water is running off rooftops, down sidewalks and my driveway. The colors around me are white, grey and the sky is astonishingly blue. Some children are wearing bright yellow rubber boots and some rainbow striped sneakers with flashing lights. Are the shrinking snow banks beautiful? Are puddles wonderful? Is Spring gradual and gentle for a reason? Can we love it in all its mess and snirtiness? I will if you will.
“Don’t wish time away,” my grandma warned me. As a girl wanting the school year to end or Christmas to come she would caution. “Slow down, Carol, this day is a good enough day for you to enjoy.” And she was right. In all the ways life, day by day for over five decades now, has been horrible and wonderful and boring, each day has been deserving of my attention, my showing up, my joining in and yes my gratitude. Even every Spring day on these northern plains where the temperature dips way below freezing and the view out my window is not green, is not blooming, but is a world waking up, sometimes like I do, slowly, stiffly and a little bit grumpy.
Spring is here. Let’s welcome it without wanting it to be more like its prettier, more popular sister, Summer, without judgment or management. Spring is beautiful and horrible, so like life, so like everything and everyone.
Slow Spring warming also leaves room for some straggling reflection and reading that we meant to get to over the winter. For me that means some fiction by Michael Cunningham author of The Hours. For that stunning read I will forever read anything he writes. Though I might recommend Home at the End of the World over the movie-made-less-glorious The Hours. I am just finished with his 2011 By Nightfall. It is smart, layered, surprising and just redemptive enough for a late winter, early Spring read. It is the second novel I have read this winter set in the New York post economic crash of 2008 art world. I think By Nightfall is the better read, but I learned more about art from Object of Beauty by Steve Martin. I am also reading Born for Love by Bruce Perry, North Dakota born neuro-psychiatrist whose research on trauma continues to inspire me. And I’m trying to get through all the New York Times Review of Books that have piled up over the winter, a particularly delicious sort of spring cleaning.
Many of us love living here in part because of the four seasons, how they mark our days and years, how they can be counted on, if not managed. Spring then, as much as Summer, deserves our respect, affection and trust. Let’s not wish her away, but rather know that like many less-than-pretty life transitions–think pre-adolescence, the first weeks of a new exercise program or kitchen remodeling–the wonderful follows the difficult and more of each follow that. Let’s show up for Spring, splash in a puddle, clean out that closet, and of course day dream of Summer just a little.