I’ve come to understand life as a cyclical thing. Perhaps there is no finer keeper of cycles than Mother Nature herself – from the changing of seasons and tidal currents and planetary rotation, to the decomposition of organic matter as a means of calling forth new life…Momma Earth knows how to orchestrate undeniable beauty by way of cyclical transition, with no discernible beginning or end.
We, too, are cyclical creatures. Whether noticed or unnoticed, worked with or fought against, my human-ness means I am always residing within a particular phase of hundreds of emotional, spiritual, and physical cycles. Mind you, I am a novice, at best, when it comes to grasping what any of this actually means. But the overarching message is simple enough: there is a time for everything; whatever it is, it is temporary.
We comfort friends during seasons of strife and grief by promising, ‘this too shall pass…’ because indeed it will. We remind our beloveds ‘Spring is coming…’ because indeed it is. And if we’re the souls experiencing a season of deep pain or turbulence, we find reassurance in the promise of a new dawn, a new day.
It’s funny, though, how we never say, “don’t worry, sweetheart…all is well now, but tremendous heartache is right around the corner; you’ll see.” It stands to reason, if Spring is coming, so too is Summer and Fall and Winter. But when the new dawn arrives, when Spring has sprung, we tend to wander around as if struck by selective amnesia…enjoying a reprieve as if it moved into our lives via sheer happenstance. We tend not to look back at the darkness, the place from which we emerged…we tend not to recognize it as a phase in the cycle, a winter to which we’ll return.
As I become more attuned to my body and my emotions and the cyclical nature of life in general, I am able to recognize that I am currently moving through a thoroughly Summer-ish season. There is a particular kind of warmth…both thick and heavy, which occurs when one lays outside in a high-heat, high-humidity environment. And right now, my life feels like that. I feel suspended in heat and happiness…slow-moving with a desire to exert energy only when it serves to extend the reach of my already-sprawling pleasure. How lovely it is to languish in a summer sun.
A few months ago, I noticed a diminished desire to read or write…in fact, holding my attention to lines on a page felt nearly impossible. I suddenly could not absorb the words of others or call forth any words of my own. It was alarming because memoirs and essays and teachers were the things that saved me time and again and delivered me to a state of awareness. I was afraid losing my appetite for the written word might be a symptom of something ugly on the horizon…like maybe I was also losing my ability to remain grounded and sponge-like.
Around the same time, I noticed a longing to be out…to surround myself with people I love in places I enjoy. I’ve been spending more time out and about with my sisters – playing sand volleyball, exploring new shops, eating at new restaurants, visiting new parks, and staying out like the sun: later. I’ve been spending Sunday afternoons in the bed of the man I can never seem to kiss enough…a man with whom I might be falling in love. I’ve been spending time away from the womb: my couch and my bed and my books and my teachers and my bath and my collection of herbal teas.
Again, noticing the shift in my wants and habits left me wondering if this was cause for concern. Is this how an unraveling begins? Where once I was eager to sit quietly alone and soak in the lessons of God, I was now full-up and eager to pour myself out with joy and to build relationships with fervor and to rest in the warmth of sunlight.
It is true that nature is cyclical and the human experience is cyclical: Spring follows Winter and healing follows grief…and Winter comes back around and grief comes back around. I spent a long time grieving. And I spent a long time healing.
I’ve decided the following is also true: we will greet each phase of the cycle again, but we don’t have to be the same person when we do. In fact, I’d argue this is one of our greatest missions as humans: to learn through pain, to grow through healing, to remember through love, and to rest so as to be ready for all that is surely coming.
For me, resting for a season looks like: reading less, writing less, playing outside, laying in the sun, swimming in the lake, light conversations and heavy conversations and staying up late, sleeping whenever my body wants to sleep for however long my body wants to sleep, hiking alone, traveling, kissing him, enjoying him, laying wrapped in his arms, dancing around bonfires, playing loud music, snuggling my cat, black-cherry ice cream cones, and savoring the sweetness that is my current phase in the cycle.
Winter creates the most incredible art…teaches us the most brutal & breathtaking lessons…leaves us feeling broke-wide-open. But when we rise, when we reach a peak, let us not question the necessity of rest and gratitude.
I’ve decided to enjoy this season (literally and metaphorically) with arms outstretched. I’ve decided to pour myself into my people…into nature…into sunshine…into joy…into rest…into Summer.