To Every Thing There Is A Season | Chuck's World
It’s an old story, one I’ve mentioned before, so by all means I should mention it again.
It was a few years ago. My wife was in a local shop, buying something local. Supporting the local economy, shoring up a small business. Just being local.
And at some point, as will happen, she was asked for her name. She gave it, and spelled it, and the women behind the counter paused for a moment and then smiled.
“Oh, I know all about you,” she said, and my wife knew that she did.
Long-time readers of this column know, too. Long-time readers of this column could probably take a quiz on trivial details of my life, a person whom they’ve never met, and do quite well. What are the names of my children? What state did I grow up in? What’s my wife’s occupation? What’s her other one?
What color is my daughter’s hair? How tall is my son? What is the average length of the grass of my lawn?
If I had a shrine in my house to one person, would it be in honor of (a) Gandhi, (b) Leonardo da Vinci, or (c) Edgar Martinez?
Put me in a locked room with a well-stocked toolbox and a common household appliance in need of a common household repair. Come back in a couple of hours and tell us what you expect to find (five points off if you think the toolbox has even been opened).
Some long-time readers are rolling their eyes. Give me something hard, they say.
OK. What’s my favorite month?
Sorry. July. Everybody knows that.
But what about my favorite season?
Ha. Long-time readers better be using pencils, not pens.
Autumn, of course. I love me some autumn. Every year, it seems, I write an ode to autumn, to wood stoves, to falling leaves, to 55 degrees. To fresh air, to candy apples, to kids in costumes. To kickoffs and runoffs and breezy days and mornings that make me gasp with possibilities, all needing to be explored before November starts trickling onto the calendar and causing trouble.
Here’s where the erasers come in, though. Here’s where this is a trick question for long-time readers. Here’s where we nitpick our way into the semantics of seasons, where we differentiate between cosmological breaks based on solstices and equinoxes, and those that are defined by culture and tradition.
There’s baseball season, for one thing. And Christmas; I do love Christmas.
But this is my favorite season. Right now. Sorry to long-time readers. For everything, really.
Lent was made for me, although I’m pretty sure it really wasn’t.
This is a tricky subject for a general interest newspaper column, so let me tread carefully here. I’m also married to a Presbyterian minister who knows a lot more about the subject (I waited until she went to work to begin to write this).
Lent is, of course, a spiritual observation associated with the Christian church, at first with early, more liturgical denominations but spreading now to a variety of practicing Christians, including Presbyterians. But even though I have practiced this observation in a number of ways over the years, and will do so this year, I want to stay away from the religious aspect for purposes of not irritating my wife, among others.
The word “Lent,” by the way, simply means “spring.” It’s traditionally the six weeks or so before Easter, beginning with Ash Wednesday and ending (it can depend) on either the Thursday or Saturday before Easter Sunday. It’s normally a period of reflection, sometimes involving prayer, abstinence from some earthly pleasures, some solemnity and any number of jokes that are made around the above earthly pleasures. I refrain from this, again.
I just love the idea of Lent, or any period of time that we set aside, that carries some history we can avail ourselves of or not, that has a set beginning and a set end, and that might involve, at some point, donuts (I just threw that in, but trust me: I have seen donuts at the end of Lent, many times).
I find myself intrigued by the idea of changing our routines, of focusing on things that matter, that we know matter but get lost in the busyness of life in the 21st century, when commutes seem longer and politics nastier, and don’t get me started on the seduction of our phones and tablets.
I would propose, actually, a secular form of Lent, a national season of reflection, where everybody agrees to try harder, eat better, be nicer. A time when we turn off our phones and turn to our neighbors. A time when we try to stop focusing on the faults of Democrats or Republicans and learn to be better people. A national season of service, in whatever way we feel comfortable serving.
People do this all the time, of course. We work at food banks and build homes with Habitat for Humanity. We clean up parks and beaches. We volunteer at schools and missions.
Or even just on a personal basis. I cleaned out my closet the other day, and it felt Lenten. Maybe we could encourage each other to declutter. I’m just spitballing here.
But it’s the season I enjoy the most, and I’d be happy to share it with America. The rest is up to you. All I can promise is donuts at the end.