• Darrow Woods

Reflection, sense of purpose an antidote to strange year of 2020

'On good days, a blessing falls over you'

The change of seasons can bring gifts, but also a feeling of loss.

The trees let go and leaves fall, scattering in the cool wind. We trade brilliant autumn colours for grey branches that frame a broader view of sky.

Each season has its gifts, we may tell ourselves. But the changes that come can still feel like loss.

The year 2020 has been one of many griefs, large and small. The approach of winter is a chilling reminder that earthly life is finite. This awareness pushes me outside, to breathe in fall air, glory in the bright sun, soak in the colours. I wonder, as I roll out of the driveway, will this be the last long bike ride of the year?

Bruce Springsteen (you can tell what era I come from by my taste in aging rockers!) released a movie on Apple TV called Letter to You. He filmed it in stark black and white on his horse farm last winter. His studio barn provided warmth and shelter from the chill grey New Jersey days while the band recorded a new album.

Change and loss can incite anxiety. Will I get to everything on my bucket list? Probably not. Especially not with the restrictions of living through a pandemic.

Springsteen turned 71 in September. His new songs are lyrical reflections on mortality. As the movie’s epilogue and to introduce the closing number, he said:

“There’s only so much time left. Only so many star-filled nights, snowfalls, brisk fall afternoons, rainy mid-summer days. So how you conduct yourself and do your work matters.

How you treat your friends, your family, your lover. On good days, a blessing falls over you. It wraps its arms around you and you’re free and deeply in and of this world. That’s your reward: being here. That’s what gets you up the next morning, a new chance to receive that benediction.”

Change and loss can incite anxiety. Will I get to everything on my bucket list? Probably not. Especially not with the restrictions of living through a pandemic.

The poet Natalie Goldberg, born about a year before Springsteen, said: “I want to be a writer more than anything else. That’s what I want to leave to future generations. If I stay true to this path, I won’t be afraid to die when it’s my time.”

An antidote, it seems to me, to the soulful unrest we may experience as this strange year hurtles forward, is to pause, to explore a little deeper. What do I most desire to do? What am I actually meant to do? What do I need to rearrange, to negotiate, to make it happen?

Darrow Woods is the minister at Harrow United Church. He lives in Kingsville.

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