One fine day, the seasons were not doing anything special, so they started a conversation about which season loved humanity most. The love could be measured by the gifts they brought to help the sustenance of joy of humankind.
Spring said: I ought to go first, because once upon a time, the New Year started with me. When I come, a frozen earth softens so that humanity can sow seeds for food and flowers. I clothe the naked trees with sheer pastels. Birdsong returns, and the love chase commences that will bring a new generation of life. I am new beginnings.
Summer said: I bring the heat and the shade. When I come, humankind can shed coats and boots and sweaters and shoes. I invite swimming and sitting outside in the warm sun. I bring cook-outs and outside games and running barefoot in the grass. The trees are lush, and when a warm breeze blows underneath their shelter, people can lean back upon them, look into a clear blue sky and dream. But, best of all, I bring vine-ripened tomatoes and fresh vegetables and spices straight out of the garden. Sweet juicy peaches where the nectar is refreshment for the gods. I bring watermelon from local fields and sweet corn on the grill.
Then Fall had its turn: I am the cool breeze. Cool cool, him so, her so cool. I bring the vibrant autumn colors — rust red, orange, maroon. I go shopping for school supplies. I am the smell of fresh notebooks and crayons and pencils and pens. I am harvest time with fresh apple cider and pumpkin-flavored everything. I am the smell of sweet potato pie in the oven. I am the falling leaves that cover the ground to insulate it from the coming snow. I am Halloween and Thanksgiving. I bring the night and teach people not to fear the dark or their own demons or death.
Winter said: I am rest, if only human beings would allow me to give them this gift. I bring the ice and the snow to suggest that they stay inside and snuggle under the covers, drink hot chocolate, eat warm soups and rest. At the same time, I bring snow angels and snow men and snow women and exhilarating runs on the ski slopes. The days grow longer and as the poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley says: “If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?”
The seasons had to admit that each brought its own unique gifts, but more important, for most people on the earth, no season is permanent. They come and they go. The longest day of the year stays only for a day until the days grow shorter and shorter until the darkest day comes. It lasts only a day as the days following become longer and longer. It came to pass. . .
On this Winter Solstice, let us remember that seasons come and they go. Then, they return. Let us feel the seasons on our skins without fear. Let us breathe in the winter air and relax into the cold until Spring comes again with its unique gifts. Let us realize that no matter the chaos and confusion that we see in our world, in our nation, in our politics, that it is only a season, and as the wisdom of an African proverb teaches: “the moon still follows the sun.”
This essay was inspired by remarks made by Rev. Jerome Jackson at the Homegoing Celebration of Rev. Dr. M. R. Lemons.
Valerie Elverton Dixon is founder of JustPeaceTheory.com and author of “Just Peace Theory Book One: Spiritual Morality, Radical Love, and the Public Conversation.