BY JUDITH LYNCH
After an on-off sort of start to spring in my part of the world, today is decidedly springlike – blue sky, sunshine, serious gardening sounds nearly drowning out our pesky, cooing pigeons and the little kids two doors up and back are playing a noisy outside game.
It’s a day for a bit of planting and pruning, then sitting on the verandah with a cup of coffee and feeling the sun on my back while I look for something stimulating to read in the weekend paper.
As winter sets in every year, I enjoy the cosiness of blinds pulled down, an open fire, casseroled aromas wafting through the house and a feather doona at the end of the day.
But as the dull or rainy days keep on coming, I am reminded of a country hit from the middle of last century: “Life gets teejus, don't it?”
My anticipated winter slowdown becomes more of a plodding along, head down, one foot in front of the other, like the little man in a Leunig cartoon.
The beautiful things and terrible things that keep happening across the planet don’t seem nearly as important as my personal gloom. Ordinary, routines, hardly noticed the rest of the year, I now see as tedious, repeat patterns that wallpaper my day, and I look for diversion. So I head to the shopping strip in a nearby suburb for coffee.
As I sip, I watch the passing parade outside the café windows. An elderly gentleman with a neat white moustache walks by on his way to the library. I’ve seen him occasionally, sitting in the library reading a magazine and enjoying the warmth and companionship he finds there, before going back to his silent, cold flat.
A woman wheels a shopping jeep into the fruit shop. Once she was slim and dark haired and lived in a village where she knew everyone. Now she lives in a land where she doesn’t understand the language and her children are too busy to fill her lonely hours.
A mum wheeling one of those three-wheeled baby movers and talking animatedly to an older woman reminds me of my friend Magdalena. She has suffered depression on and off for thirty years because her village culture told her that her inability to have a baby means that she is inferior as a woman. Now she suffers because she will never know the joy of a grandchild.
Janet, whom I’ve seen occasionally at Mass, walks past, elegant as always, walks by and disappears into the bank. But I know that she lives with the never-ending heartbreak of the night her teenage daughter committed suicide.
As I’ve sipped my coffee I’ve tried each story on for size. I’ve imagined the pain and guilt when a loved child suicides, the ache of empty bedrooms, the loneliness of ageing.
These people are my reality checks when I’m gripped by my winter blues. I return home a little ashamed that I have looked at my tedium as a burden rather than an opportunity to live the present moment a little deeper.
For reasons I can’t quite fathom, I wonder what Paul the Apostle would make of it. Paul is such a straight backed kind of person with strong views about the how of following Christ. Even though I can’t recall reading it anywhere in his letters, giving in to tedium seems like something that should have make it on to one of his lists.
In the southern states of Australia, now would seem like the ideal time to celebrate Easter. Longer days are just around the corner with the promise of holidays, while veggie gardens are marked out and summer time tomatoes planted.
In the poetic words of the Song of Songs, “Winter is past. Flowers are appearing on the earth. The season of glad songs has come.” There’s a scent of excitement around that’s not solely to do with the aftermath of the football grand finals.
In my ideal Church, the Church I sometimes dream about, this is the time of the year that I’d choose to celebrate the Paschal season. I want to experience the Holy Week liturgy as more than an intellectual exercise. I want to anticipate it during the tedious days of winter and feel the New Life it promises touch my skin with the promise and warmth of Easter resurrection.
Judith Lynch is a writer who lives in Melbourne. More of her writing appears at tarellaspirituality.com
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