I have a confession to make. It has been several months since I consistently visited Seward Park in the morning, which was a part of my daily routine from the very first moment we arrived in Seattle. The temptations were there to distract me: The winter was miserable; I wanted to spend more time with my family in the morning; I wanted to get just a few more minutes of sleep. Just as the weather gets more and more intolerable, as we eagerly anticipate spring to reveal itself, nature is a reminder that things do come back to life, despite the length and harshness of winter.
It was a walk through Seward Park that jogged my memory. Though I walked in very cold weather, which necessitated that I bundle up in several layers and put on my gloves, the trees and plants are blooming with beautiful colors, reminding me that no matter how harsh winter can be in Seattle, the cycle of life continues.
The reemergence of nature after several months of dormancy serves as an example of how life goes on. Though times are tough in our lives — we have worries about the continued economic crisis and other complexities of the world — we, as human beings, through our efforts, can reemerge. Or, as we popularly say, “life goes on.”
While it seems we have a “Groundhog Day” experience in Seattle, we emerge enlightened from season to season. Like a tree, we shed our leaves or a few branches, but the roots grow only stronger and trunks only thicker. In life our wisdom strengthens as we age. From a Jewish perspective, our understanding of Torah only becomes more complex and sophisticated. We learn from our mistakes and adapt to old and new circumstances.
In times such as these, when our problems seem insurmountable, a positive comes from a challenge. We grow in our wisdom, and make tough choices for the future. The roots, the Torah and other traditional texts, remain the same. But the commentary and perspectives we add serve to augment what has been handed down to us from our ancestors.
Our challenge is to remain positive and optimistic that things will get better. It requires a certain degree of faith, because we ultimately take the initiative. Like the cold and darkness of winter, there is seemingly little light to guide us.
But just as God continues to give us the seasons to remind us of the cycle of life, God is with us throughout the good and bad times as well. God provides the light for us; we have to allow it to guide us through dark and cold times. And we have to be thankful for it in good times as well, for this light does not depend on the seasons. God’s light, in other words, transcends the natural cycle of the earth and universe, and therefore, is there to lead us at every moment.
May God bless us with light in this season of rebirth. And may God’s light grant us the strength we need to make it through any season, both physical and emotional.