Summertime


Still there? Or just dropping by on the off-chance that there’s something new? Well, finally I’m posting again.

Now that we’re solidly clutched in summer’s clammy embrace, I was thinking about why I’m am so deeply prejudiced in favour of winter and against summer. It’s not just where I was born–Winnipeg–although that must certainly be a contributing factor. What we’re born into is what seems normal to us, and later experiences are measured as deviations against that norm, I think.

But more than that, there’s something about our contrasting responses to winter and summer that has meaning to me. Winter engenders resistance; you can’t give in, you have to cope with it, go out and face off against it, keep moving. It’s not ingratiating; it’s challenging. The wintrier it gets, the more you dress to keep warm and survive.

Summer, on the other hand, demands surrender. You have to give in; the only response is languor, passivity, immobility. Lie down in the shade and drink cool tall glasses of lemonade; wear the minimum consistent with public decency, your personal esthetic sense, modesty, and the fact that every thread of fabric feels like lead. When that irreducible minimum of clothing is achieved, there’s nothing left to do but sweat and pray for nightfall.

But these differing impressions have echoes in other areas of life; on a grand level, the encounter with nature adumbrates the encounter with God. And for Jews, the encounter with God is always a tussle, a grappling. (Remember how Israel got his/its name.) We are not passive when we engage with God; we discuss, we demand, we inquire. We muffle ourselves in arguments and reasoning in our attempt to figure out what the ineffable expectation is. We don’t just lie back and wait for God to show us a portent or two.

So, although we began as a desert people, it seems to me that winter is now a better exemplar of where we live spiritually. Resistance is not only not futile; it’s necessary, indeed it’s essential!

Yours in estivation,
Shayna

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