At least once a day, Otto brings me his favorite book, Richard Scarry’s I am a Bunny, which describes the different activities of the bunny, Nicholas, as the seasons change from spring to winter. He chases the butterflies, watches the birds and frogs by the pond, blows dandelion fluff, and watches animals prepare for winter and the first snow fall before he goes to sleep and dreams about spring. When we get to the end, Otto starts turning the pages from right to left and we go backward through the seasons and the year, ending with daffodils and dogwood flowers. Especially with a welcome and spectacular spring out the window right now, I appreciate ending the story not just dreaming of spring, but living in it.
But, as he gets older, I hope I can teach Otto the importance of each of the seasons individually and, especially, in their cycle. It would, of course, be wonderful to have nothing but springs and summers in our lives, but there will always be times when circumstance, illness, sadness, or age make the landscape of our experience seem cold, barren, short, and dark.
Since Otto’s birth I have thought a lot about what this new season has brought me. He was born near the start of winter, and though we’ve gone through a year and a half of seasons since then, in some ways it has remained winter, for me, at least. I’ve done it happily, but have pruned much of what used to take my time in order to live according to Otto’s rhythms. For months, I spent most of my time sitting on the couch with him, trying to get him to eat, or to sleep. We had lots of family and friends visit and help, John went to work every day, but I just sat. Sitting on the couch with Otto was the only thing that ensured any of us slept enough to barely function the next day. I read a lot. I got good at balancing soup on the couch cushions. It was often very boring. (I realize I am lucky to be allowed so much boring time with my kid.) I felt guilty about how much everyone did for me. I worried people might be saying unkind things about me and how little I was accomplishing. But, I also felt that this sitting was what we both needed. We were, and in many ways still are, conserving our energy for what is coming next. Otto is, literally, learning what it means to move through this world. And I am soaking up as much time as I can with a kid who is growing increasingly independent.
I think there is wisdom, and eventually peace, in correctly identifying the season you are in and trying to live as much in sync with it as possible.
Reverend Jen shared a prayer with me recently that seems to ask these very questions: What time of year is it for me right now? What should I do during this season?
This is another day, O Lord. I know not what it will bring forth, but make me ready, Lord, for whatever it may be. If I am to stand up, help me stand bravely. If I am to sit still, help me to sit quietly. If I am to lie low, help me do it patiently. And if I am to do nothing, let me do it gallantly. Make these words more than words, and give me the Spirit of Jesus. Amen.