I took this hike with my youngest today. He and I reconnected with this chunk of land we both deeply love. And as we savored the late Winter/Early Spring environment, I had this realization about the nature of things… That in life there are great, big cycles, like the annual cycle of the Earth revolving around the sun. And then there are little cycles, like morning, day, evening, night, then back to morning again: the Earth spinning on it’s axis.
I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me begin at the beginning.
Weather and business and laziness had conspired to keep us away from this Wildlife Sanctuary I love to take the kids hiking at. As we meandered down the path, my six year old began observing changes: a new trail cut off from the main one, a fallen tree that hadn’t been fallen before, a high river line that washed over the rocks we’d normally use to get to the opposite bank.
We enjoyed some marks of the season. Though the trees are still naked some of the animals are awakening. A squirrel took these great, flying leaps across the path in front of us. A blue jay trotted up a tree. A branch was covered in this strange, furry moss. It looked like it was transforming itself into Chaka, from land of the lost.
As he made all these observations, I felt this welling of pride, blessedness, and pleasure. It’s so awesome that my kids can have a relationship with a place, that they can know land so intimately that they can see its changes and transformations.
I began to wonder about those who lived thousands of years ago. People who didn’t have the luxury of isolating themselves from nature: they’d observe cycles…
Cycles of the day, and cycles of the seasons. To some extent the seasons would impact the daily cycle, in that Winter time days would be shorter and Summer time days would be longer. But they would be much more impacted by the dawn every day, much like the dawn and sun set are so impactful for those who go camping. And they would be so impacted by the seasons.
There are ways that this would be a bad thing. Farmers might approach the scarcity of Fall and Winter with something like terror. And I love having access to easy lights, at the touch of my fingertips, quite literally.
But there’s also a problem in all this. One is that God’s rhythms are so much greater than ours. We’ve isolated ourselves from them, and that’s not good or natural.
And I began to wonder: would watching these cycles day in and day out, year in, and year out, what would this do to our spirituality? Could the ancients comprehend the fullness of “This too shall pass” in a deeper way than we can, because they lived the Spring following the Winter every year? Because they lived the dawn following the dark every day? Yes, we know these things. They might even effect us a bit… But the ancient peoples, they lived in these reality in a much deeper way than we do.
Some people believe that all things go in cycles; other people believe that things progress in a straight line. I don’t know if I can actually express the next realization I had. It’s sort of that we have little cycles (days) and big cycles (years) in our lives.
I’ve got this job in a Suburban School. I’ve had it for less than a year: in other words, I’m pretty new at it. My current job, it’s the big cycle, it’s the year. It’s a progression, a journey. There are some things which tie a year together. There are some things that will tie my entire tenure together at this particular school. Obviously, as long as I work at this specific school I will go to the same place, work with mostly the same people, teach many of the same kids. From my first day until my last day at this school, there are ways these days are similar.
On the other hand, if I compare my experience of being sort-of new at my current place, there are ways that it strongly compares with being sort-of new at other places. Being in the sort-of new stage, regardless of where I am, this cuts across the places I’ve been. Whether I’m at an inner city school or a suburban one, whether I am teaching in a public setting or at a residential point, the sort-of new stage is the time when some of the shine and novelty has worn off; when I start to know names of even casual aquiantances; when I start to think about next school year.
There are things that happened in a given year, and my brain sometimes files them together… 1996 was the year that such-and-such happened.
But there are also ways I identified months. June, whether I was 12, 22, or 32, meant no school, hot days, lemonade…
I don’t know what this all means. It’s funny how thoughts progress.