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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Changing Seasons

Over the years I have come to have a greater appreciation for the changing seasons, both natural and liturgical. One of the most monotonous aspects of modern office work is that the environment is always the same. All year round you do the same kinds of tasks in the same "weather." Even an enjoyable job can become a grind under those conditions. Even with the small amount of homesteading we do, we have to be attentive to the seasons, and I am grateful for the variations they provide.

I used to hate Summer. I still do hate humidity, but I don't mind the heat as much anymore, and I like the long slow days. Of course, "slow" is a relative term. The time still goes by too fast. But in Summer it does seem slower. When it is not too humid the Summer nights are especially pleasant. Although I don't do it often enough, I like to sit outside after the kids are in bed and listen to the sounds of the Summer night and enjoy a fine drink. Those pleasant nights seem to invite you to just relax and and take time to reflect. And that is something most of us probably need to do more.

Different seasons bring a different focus to our homesteading activities. Summer brings a lot of outdoor manual labor. Usually it is very satisfying to get this work done, and see it blossom and bear fruit (sometimes literally). At times it can be tedious too, like when you are weeding. But even at these times, you know you only have a few months of it before the season changes again. So you plod through the work, and hopefully you get a worthwhile harvest.

The Church's Liturgy works in concert with the natural seasons. Time after Pentecost brings a slow and steady pace to the liturgy after the highs and lows of the first half of the liturgical year. Even the chants of the Mass are slower and more drawn out (honestly I am not a huge fan of these, but I do appreciate the way they mesh with the season). Christmas, Lent, and Easter, are all great, and generally my favorite times of the year. But you can't always be in high gear. In the Liturgical Cycle, Time after Pentecost represents the time of the Church in the world. It is the time from Pentecost until the end of the world, that the Church plods along and does it's work, hoping for a good harvest.

For ourselves, it's time to do what we need to do in our spiritual lives. Nothing special or flashy, just buckle down and attend to our spiritual duties. There are still plenty of feasts to give us rest from our labor, but they serve to punctuate the season, they don't dominate our attention the way the events of our Lord's life do during the other seasons. Of course every season has ample opportunities for spiritual growth. But this season has more of a "slow and steady wins the race" feel, as opposed to the intensity of the other seasons. I am convinced that the Liturgical Cycle is ordered that way because we can all benefit from the change of pace that different seasons bring.