What Season Is It?

It's finally raining after a mostly dry January and February. The norm for this time of year in Northern California is Noah-esque downpours alternating with the constant pitter of "Seattle-sunshine". Blue skies, al fresco dining, and sun-kissed blossoms are not seasonal. We live seasonally. The seasons of the earth...and of our human life...continue onward unabated. We must bow to those patterns of ebb and flow, cold and warm, birth and death. We can dance to the rhythm or sit in a corner and sulk, but the music goes on either way.

In Taoism the spiritual path is to align with the Tao, the Way, which is the flow of life. The clearer and simpler we live, and the more flexible we are with the turnings of the seasons of life, the more free and alive we will be.

Societies and cultures also have seasons. But what season are we in? Are we becoming more peaceful or more belligerent?  Is this a season of hope or fear?

It seems that we as a species are in a "shoulder season", a time of transition between seasons. We vacillate between what we are becoming and the lesser angels of our past. We are both a fearful, bigoted, selfish lot, and a generous, welcoming, evolving people. And, of course, each of us individually is somewhere on that spectrum, often vacillating between the poles.

As a nation of immigrants, we nearly erased those native to this land. We are deeply enriched by those not native to our shores, but anti-immigrant sentiment and policies are ascending.

We had our first African-American President. It seemed perhaps that we had turned a page, yet racism is becoming more vocal and visible.

We are fickle, flawed and finite. In this time between seasons, many long for a return to how things used to be, while others aggressively press us forward to a more inclusive tomorrow. It's hard to tell where we are and who we are collectively.

Yet an even deeper reality exists beyond our volatile weather patterns. It does not turn, has no beginning or end. It is the pure potential out of which all other seasons erupt. It contains the poles of our vacillation, yet is neither pole.

What is this reality? Taoists say that the Tao which can be named is not the Eternal Tao. In other words, we seasonal beings cannot grasp the Eternal from which we emerge. We are always becoming, always in process, always a changing manifestation of the Un-manifest.

Everything and everyone is in constant flux between seasons. So perhaps we can be a bit less rigid and have a little more self-compassion and humor; for we are all in a "shoulder season" somewhere between who we aspire to be and who we are in this moment.

As we passionately rally for a most just, welcoming, sustainable world...even when our conscience compels us to cajole those stuck in a previous season to "wake up"...let's do so with a little more compassion and humility.  Even the best of us is still a work in progress.