It is the first day of spring on the North 40 latitude. We made it. I am not fond of winter’s darkness. I don’t enjoy the long shadows that are produced by a sun that is lower on the horizon. (I know, I know…what a wuzz I am…especially for you who live North 50/South 50 and beyond!) What is my problem with long shadows? I am not sure, but maybe it is a reminder of all the darkness that lies inside of me. Still something tells me, I need to spend time with winter’s shadows, acknowledging it all. Lately, I have been doing a little bit of that in short spurts. I am very slowly reading an introduction to Thomas Merton, an American monk who acknowledged his own shadows, even spent quite some time living in them actually, as he sought out a complete relationship with God. I like the dude so far… a lot. If I was ever going to get drunk with a monk (there is a song lyric for ya), Thomas Merton would be my guy.
Lately, I have been thinking about teachers, speech therapists, nurses, environmentalists, poets, songwriters, bloggers, social workers, high school counselors, professors, novelists, parents, shamans, social entreprenuers, hospice workers, students, graphic artists, therapists, artists, consultants, and social justice advocates. In other words, my family, friends, and colleagues. Their daily work is so challenging and often seems like one step forward and two steps back. On this vernal equinox, I ran across this quote from a letter in the Thomas Merton book I am reading, What I Am Living For,
“[D]o not depend on the hope of results. When you are doing the sort of work you have taken on, essentially an apostolic work, you may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite of what you expect. As you get used to this idea you start more and more to concentrate not on the results but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself…In the end, as you yourself mention in passing, it is the reality of personal relationships that saves everything.”
I don’t know if this means anything to you, but it kind of rings a bell with me – a bell that softly says, “Sit down by the big oak tree, and think about this for a moment.” I watch so many people in their “truth work, right work” who face enormous obstacles in getting things done. The results are spotty, sometimes, at best. Yet, that work must be done because it is right. I am proud of ya’ll.
Maybe the equinoxes should be celebrated as the Yin and Yang Days? The Vernal Equinox represents the middle path, situated perfectly between the light and the darkness. From a gardener’s point of view though, I am looking forward to those summer tomatoes that come with more light! They seem a long ways from my shadows.