While some individuals are having the time of their life this summer, engaging in a whirlwind of activity, “easy” doesn’t describe this season for others. Preoccupation about inflation, an upsurge of the BA.5 variant of Covid-19, and other events - the effects of climate change and war in Ukraine - make you want to take a long siesta. It is a challenge to remain positive and keep the faith.
You may want to look to the seasons of nature to gain assurance that the cycles of retraction and expansion are ever present. Likewise, in your life there is a natural ebb and flow, cyclical as in nature. Spring time beckons new beginnings and autumn is the time for reaping/harvesting the yield from ideas (seeds) that were sown. Winter is a time for retraction, a turning inward and a much-needed rest from the activities of spring, summer and fall. The season called summer, got its name from a Proto-Indo-European word “sem” which means “together/one.” This seems to be a bit of a dichotomy. How can together/one be the same?
Summer seems to hold hope. You may be one person but by joining together, we are powerful.
The writer and activist, Parker Palmer wrote an article entitled “Summer’s Abundant Community” in which he points out that human nature is in sharp contrast to nature. If we learn from nature, the human world might be transformed. Humans live in a perpetual state of scarcity as the law of life, but looking to summer, with its abundant food and other gifts it bears, reveals a truth. Abundance is a communal act, “the joint creation of an incredibly complex ecology in which each part functions on behalf of the whole and, in return, is sustained by the whole.” Parker feels that community not only creates abundance - community is abundance.
As the popular children’s song goes “Inch by inch, row by row, gonna make this garden grow,” you may want to reflect on your own summer garden. What does community mean to you? What does it look like? What action step have you taken to build community? Are you a positive change maker? George Vaillant, in his famous longitudinal Harvard study of adult development found that deepening social connections and making a contribution to others was an important factor in aging well.
As we have written about in previous articles for this publication, we have just moved to a new community and dipping our toes gently into how we can serve. We have committed ourselves to performing water testing on our local body of water every other week. We have also started formulating ideas for our next book, which will be about “sense of place” and will begin interviewing people in our community. This will not only benefit our readers but at the same time create a richer community for us.
So instead of being overwhelmed with the events of the world or your own personal minutia perhaps you want to take a moment and reflect on your sense of purpose and how that contributes to the larger community. Think globally, act locally!
About the Authors:
Dr. Lisa Cowley, a holistic chiropractor and nutritional counselor of 25 years, along with her husband, Victor Westgate, a high school educator of 34 years, are authors of Pack Lightly: Making Sense of the Second Half of Your Life. You can learn more at: www.joyinaging.com