Musing on a Warm January Day

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Moss and lichen cling summer green to the January lilac

It’s a gray day here in New Hampshire. Raining when it probably should be snowing. The temperature, warm enough to open windows. My phone tells me it’s 59 degrees outside. Soon it will be 60, but tomorrow will bring a nearly 30 degree drop in temperature, and on Tuesday it should be snowing.

Yesterday, when I was out with the dogs and my son in the balmy air, I recalled walking in Boston more than twenty years ago, in January. It was a surreal day. Ninety degrees in the city. In January. A few years prior, there was an April Fool’s snowfall that dumped two feet of snow on my car in Providence. The weather has been extreme for decades now. Yet it still feels strange. Surreal.

I am not comfortable with this new normal. Now, most days, the atmosphere sparks with the unpredictable. Or, rather, what shouldn’t be predicted. It can be incomprehensible how we cling to old ways, even when we should change them.

Last night, my husband and I watched the movie Tolkein, and more than anything else, I was grabbed by the scenes of war. No wonder, I kept thinking, he wrote what he did. I was filled with frustration as I watched scenes I try to avoid in books and movies of a senseless and barbaric act we’ve woven into the fabric of humanity since nearly the beginning of our time here on Earth. To the victor goes the spoils of the greatest number of lives extinguished.

In these moments, I’m acutely reminded of the chaos of our chosen existence. The swirling darkness that lives inside of us. How we strive for power by killing life. The irony is sometimes too much to bear.

Outside my open window, it sounds like a tropical symphony. Birds sing as though it is spring and the lichens on the lilacs wear a stunning shade of aqua beside a vibrant green moss. Looking at it brings me comfort. It soothes my troubled heart. As does the happy confusion of wild birds in January.

Nature accepts more easily than I do, and I am grateful that I can turn to its soothing balm to temper my troubled soul. Acceptance can be hard to embrace these days. It can feel as helpless as it is freeing. Inside of it, though, is the knowing that I have chosen to be here in this time, as we all have. To play some uncertain role that I often cannot define. To move through each moment with an intention to cling to more grace than anger. More love than hate. And more forgiveness than resentment. And, what a challenge for this we have been given.