A few years ago I spent three weeks in Malibu at the beginning of the summer. I returned refreshed to a Boston that had suffered a brutal heat wave in my absence, and was often asked how the weather was. Although I’d never needed a hat or gloves, and I’d never sweat through my clothes, I hadn’t been totally satisfied with three weeks of 70 degrees and sunny. I didn’t have the nerve to confess this to my friends and family, but I had found that monotonously idyllic weather boring.
Years are funny things. They’re long enough that we can’t really comprehend their span, but short enough that they can seem to pass quickly, and we give a lot of meaning to this number of 365 days. In New England we get a little of everything in each turn of the earth around the sun – snow & freezing temperatures, humidity and blazing heat. Although the warm weather seems terribly distant each February, we never really go long enough without a particular season to forget what it is all about.
I think that’s why I have always liked the liturgical calendar so much. Every element of Christian living is given its due at least once a year. No matter what the seasons of our lives are we are called to ponder the whole experience during the course of the year. We celebrate new life and the Resurrection even if our own lives feel like an unrelenting penitential season. When life is joyful we still pause for sorrowful remembrance and contrition. We go through it all – and then we cycle around and go through it all again.
This weekend I finally packed up my swimming and biking gear from triathlon training this summer. I went into fall with good intentions for keeping up with those sports, but the demands of work and music have left me no time to even find a gym with a pool, never mind swim in that pool once I’ve found it. I keep saying “I miss swimming”, and I do miss the feel of the water on my body and the rhythm of my arms stroking through the water. But what I really miss is the season: bright mornings leading into days that would be longer than the nights, early breakfasts in my friends’ kitchen, running my towel through the dryer in the sunny laundry room before I stuffed it into a backpack and got back on my bike.