UPDATE FROM THE FIELD
I hear the herald of the dawn of a new season, whispering upon the wind blowing over the fields today. The dark season of winter can seem like an impenetrable veil that separates us from the life that bloomed and thrived behind us, and the beautiful potential of the renewed season that lies ahead. It is understandable that when we walk outside in January and feel the ice and snow beneath our feet and breathe in the arctic air, we may have a strange sense that winter is all we knew, even if we are sure we remember the flowers of spring and the rainbows of summer. We are, after all, children who live within our own time, the present.
The present, however, is an illusion just as our concept of absolute time is. We intuitively know this on mornings like these when we labor to set our clocks to a time that our bodies challenge. No creature nor plant changed its behavior today, except for humans who believe that time is linear and that we measure it by the hands of a clock or the numbers on a display. When the hours, identified by our clocks increase, we believe something profound is lost to never be retrieved.
In the perspective enjoyed by the giant redwoods of the West coast that can live for 1500 or more years, humans toil separately, rarely appreciating what they have accomplished together. It would see us as we see the beehive, or ant colony, a system that ebbs and flows, rises and falls cyclically. There would be seasons that spanned centuries, and each cycle would be built from what remained of the previous one. The seasons of the fields teach me the same thing.
We often see the seasons as metaphors for our life. In some respects, the metaphor is wonderfully appropriate, but I think that winter is misunderstood. We think of winter as the end. It is not. Life awaits to be reborn into the new season, a time that has always been intended for that life to grow and thrive. Winter is simply a door or gateway that must be passed though to reach spring. Time, then, is not linear, but cyclical.
The flowers of spring will bloom precisely because of that which came before. In fact, many plants in the north actually need their seeds to experience winter before they will germinate in the spring. There are so many belief systems that incorporate this idea of renewal in its many forms and manifestations, and it is likely that our ancestors thought about this frequently because their existence depended upon them understanding it. So as I complete my work on the farm today, I find evidence for hope blowing on the winds that will usher in another season of growth and renewal, and as I pass through the door from one season whose time had come, to another, I will reflect on that which lies ahead, while appreciating all that has come before.