If you’ve lived through a February in the northern part of the world, you’ve learned some valuable things. Thin layers beat one thick coat, for instance. Felted wool beats woven wool – that may not be science, but it seems true to me. And the shortest days of the year, the ones where winter is truer than you thought it could be, come along weeks after the solstice. The same holds true for summer, for right now. These days are longer – especially these languorous evenings – than they knew how to be in June. That is a true thing. There is some kind of delay in how the big, enduring things appear. They don’t give themselves away all at once, no matter what the calendar says. The truths, all of them, take time to show up. That is their elegance.
It’s the same for death, really. People call me ten months after their lover or their friend dies and they say, “It’s a lot worse now.” Yes it is. It takes a long time for a loved one’s death to die. It’s the same for your life: it takes a good while for you to start living it, though all the necessities for living deeply and living well are there pretty much from the outset. Add all this up and it may be that woven into the great architecture of the way it is you’ll find some grace time, for learning. You’re not on the hook right away. The Lords of Chance give you a chance to learn, so that you don’t come to all the big things an amateur, startled, without a chance. If we are lucky enough for you to live into your elderhood, you’ll find that even your elderhood takes time to appear, and when it does you get a chance to mimic all the elegant truths that have had their way with you. You go slowly. Then the younger folks get to see what it is like, well before their turn comes.
It is a gift, the staggering seasons, the year-long day you sometimes live. Not the kind of gift we long for. More likely the kind of gift we might deserve. All blessings on these long days, on the long road home.
We know the headlines all said that last year was financial crunch time, but everything tells us that this year the fears and hesitations are beginning to show. It is the same lag, the same delay. So we have the finest regard and a gratitude usually reserved for those times when all the looney seductions have failed and the way of the human being is among us, for all those who have thwarted their money manager’s advice and joined us in Saskatoon and Massachusetts and Victoria and the Hollyhock Centre in B.C., who will be joining us at Acadia University in Nova Scotia and in Charlton and Maui and in Ottawa, and most grandly for those who have journeyed to our little corner of eastern Ontario to become and now remain the faithful scholars of the Orphan Wisdom School. All blessings to each of you, and to those others holding down the home front and the work front so we can be counted among the lucky by your presence and your noble labours on behalf of a better day for those perhaps not yet born.