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Here in New England, after a winter, with storms, cold snaps and wind it’s pretty easy to think of this as the Culling Season. Old, dead, overgrown stuff gets ripped out, blown off – harsh forces purge. Justice.
It’s even easier to take events like winter – totally out of our control – and ascribe moral play to their arbitrary caprice. It feels good to have a larger order: Global Something, Clensing Winter, Religion. But subjective lessons amid the uncaring natural world are not dumb, or even comforting: lessons give perspective, and perspective makes sense.
When I deeply ached in my first 14 year old athletic attempt, I had no parent to give insight, but I heard the automatic pain of damage and repair intimately for the first time. When I got good at knocking people down, those full arm, never fading, blue-black bruises made sense – even though hideous.
The world comes to reflect the impossibly subjective. Right now, here, it’s in hideous disarray – random bits and material blown into clollections and cleaning scrapings. It’s not yet warm enough for healing, but I know better – it will happen, because it happens whether I understand it or not.
It is only the presence of absence that clarifies value. The loss of balance caused by one wee blood flow is, now, healing, and perspective is certified, as it should, always, to be sacred.
The clumsy rituals of oathed affirmation of belief are more in hope than embrace for most. When things are broken by circomstance, with no control or understanding, the power of their absence is undeniable. I wanted to walk without pain at 14, so gratitude 3 years later was deep and abiding.
If you have earned everything – and think of it, really, you have earned precious little – the loss of anything starkly clarifies the gift. If there were reasonable cosmic ledger sheets, where we are due our earned righteous minimum, then “Fairness” would matter.
There is no fairness. Winter is not fair. Bruises are not fair. My childhood was not fair. But they are necessary, because they happened.
Spring happens. Fall of 1972 happens. I have a family. There is no required justice – there are not even rewards, but there is good. Fairness is good – so we work at our hardest to make this world scrupulous. Life is good, whether we earn it or not, understand it or not – life is good.