Friday, November 6, 2009

V - Seasons

Recently, I've been doing some thinking about seasons and the various themes of life, death, sorrow, love and beauty that we ascribe to them. A year ago, I had a conversation with M, about seasons and how much we missed the changing seasons in constantly hot and sunny Singapore. Oh how sad, we said, that there are no seasons in Singapore.

We were wrong of course. It's now November, summer in Australia, late fall in North America and Europe. In Singapore, the sun shines but the seasons change.

Seasons mean something – we ascribe to them meanings beyond the mere states of hot and cold, hail, storm and snow. Not for nothing does Shakespeare write “Now is the winter of our discontent” or Eliot begin The Wasteland with “April is the cruellest month”. From Shakespeare to Dickens to and T.S Eliot, weather phenomenon, seasons have symbolized and affected the inner psyche, the spiritual and emotional state of the story characters.

In A Dictionary of Symbols, J.E Cirlot notes that the interplay between climate and character psychology is one of the most frequent in all of literature:

"The relationship between a state of mind and a given climate, as expressed by the interplay between space, situation, the elements and temperature, as well as level-symbolism, is one of the most frequent of all analogies in literature. The universal value of pairs of opposites, such as high/low, dry/wet, clear/dark, is demonstrated in their continued use not only in physical and material but also in psychological, intellectual and spiritual matters."

This is the fifth and last post in the series of posts on the seasons. Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter: ascribing to Spring the sense of freshness and new love, imbuing Summer with heat and joy triumphant, loving Autumn's harvest and colours and then falling into quiet contemplation with Winter.

But really, when I started writing, I started with this post. I wrote this because I realized that M and I were both wrong; there are always seasons. Maybe not of the meteorological variety but there are – and will always be - seasons in our life, seasons of the mind and seasons of the spirit. There are seasons in our inner landscapes even when there is no discernible change in the weather.

People come and go. Seasons – physical and psychological – change. We laugh learn fall down pick ourselves up cry make mistakes, live. M left last night, for good, entering into a new season of her life; in her case geographical and metaphysical change are intricately intertwined, braiding in and out of each other like the rich red braids of her hair.

For other people I know, this is the season of job changes, loved ones coming and going, metaphysical and mental shifts that barely show as ripples on the surface but are titanic in their ability to generate the changes to come.

I'm interested in all the myriad seasons of life - a new child, a time of learning, an awakening faith, the plunge into post graduate studies, new jobs. Friends, call me, write me postcards, drop me an email, tell me where you are now, the season of life that you're walking through. I'd love to hear from you.

For the rest of the seasons I posted poetry, music but for this which encompasses them all, I have only words from the wisest of men, words that will stay with us no matter what season it is. From the book written by Solomon, the prayers of St Augustine and finally - from Scripture.

To everything there is a season,

A time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born,
And a time to die;
A time to plant,
And a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill,
And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
And a time to build up;
A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
And a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones,
And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,
And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain,
And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
And a time to throw away;
A time to tear,
And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence,
And a time to speak;
A time to love,
And a time to hate;
A time of war,
And a time of peace.


Night Prayer of St Augustine

Watch, O Lord, with those who wake or weep tonight, and give your angels and saints charge over those who slumber.
Tend your sick ones, O Lord Christ,
Rest your weary ones,
Bless your dying ones,
Soothe your suffering ones,
Pity your afflicted ones,
Shield your joyous ones,
And all for your love's sake. Amen.


The mercies of the Lord are never exhausted; the mercies of the Lord are never spent: but they are new each morning.

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