Live life with the Seasons

Live life with the Seasons

It’s one of the most common Bible quotes, used at both weddings and funerals. In the past, this would have come far more naturally than it does now. Previous life was governed by the rhythms of the Earth, planting and harvest – otherwise, there would never be any food! And, of course, until the invention of artificial lighting in the 19th Century, they had no choice but to live with the seasons. In the days before gas-light, and then electric lights, you had little choice but to sleep more during the winter months as the evenings grew darker. Candles were expensive, so only wealthy people could afford to stay up late. In the Summer time, by contrast, people would work 12-hour days or more, making the most of the extra hours of daylight to prepare for upcoming months by sewing and knitting the warm clothes they’d need, and to grow the food that would be put into store in the Autumn.

In the days before processed food, you’d spend all Winter living on food that had been dried, salted or smoked because there was barely any fresh food available. Seasonal food was the only option. These days it’s very different, of course. You fancy eating fresh strawberries in January? Not a problem! Pop down to Sainsbury’s and they’ll have some that have been air-lifted in from Israel or South Africa. Don’t want to go to bed when it goes dark?Well, sit up until 3am watching Netflix, if you prefer. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – who wants to go to bed at 5pm, just because it’s dark? And I’m sure it would get tiresome living 3 or 4 months on salted fish and smoked, dried meat, with almost no fresh greens.

But we have lost something…

When you have the ability to work through the night thanks to electric light and central heating, there’s no reason to slow down in the Winter. You can keep up the same frantic rat-race all year round. In the same way, hot Summer days that were once an invitation to rest in the shade, can now be ignored thanks to fans and air-conditioning. There’s no need to be in tune with the unfolding year. In past times, families might sit round the fire on a Winter’s evening, telling stories and singing together – entertainment you could have with very little light, which also built social bonds helping people feel that they belonged.

In the Spring time, there’d be festivals to celebrate the abundant food supply as fresh food became available. Even in pre-Christian times, there were fertility festivals around Easter time. The lambs and calves were born, the cows were producing extra milk from the lush green grass, the weather was warmer, and you could finally stop eating that dreadful salted fish! (This is where the Easter bunny and the eggs come in – nothing to do with the Christian Easter story!) All through the Summer, people fully embraced the time they could spend outside, as well as long hours growing food there were pilgrimages, festivals and weddings.

Once Autumn arrived, there was the harvest which led to weeks of work, preserving as much food as possible to see you through the Winter. People worked and celebrated together, in tune with the rhythm of the seasons in year. They felt a deeper connection with Earth., as their lives were governed by the changing cycles of weather. For every thing, there was indeed a season and a time for every purpose under the Universe.

Although it is pretty unpractical to suggest that you should revert to sleeping and rising with the Sun, it does seem there are aspects which could be better for our health. By being more in tune with the seasons., we could especially benefit from rediscovering the joys of Winter. Instead of finding it depressing, it is a time for resting, dreaming, and making plans. It’s a time for taking a step back to look at the Big Picture. Where are we going in our lives? Is that somewhere we want to be headed? And, if not, where would we rather be instead? Once we get clarity about where we want our lives to go, we can think through some of the steps to achieve this, as soon as it’s warm enough to be out and about, and non-stop busy again. There’s a saying: “Some people live for 90 years. And some just live the same year, over and over, 90 times.”  You don’t want to be an endless repeater!

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