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  • Writer's picturejamesbriankerr

Peaceable Man Files #43: Winds of Change

Random musings on my vagabond existence in the Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania and wherever else life takes me.

After a couple weeks away because of various work and family commitments, I arrived back at the mountain house yesterday with work to do.

The weather turned deliciously spring-like during the week, with temperatures pushing up into the upper sixties. The grass is greening up. The weeds too, and the dandelions and onion grass. It’s time to switch out the snowplow for the mower deck on the Kubota. It’s a bit of a risky gambit, being that it’s only mid-March and we could still get snow up here. But any snow we get isn’t likely to last very long with the days growing longer and warmer. I’ll take the chance.

Meanwhile, I have to clean up the yard. The recent high winds have created a war zone of downed tree limbs and branches on the lawn. Also, a few dead ash trees have fallen down in the adjacent woods, throwing hurdles across the paths that Cassie and I take in our daily walks around the property. I’ll need the chainsaw to cut up those fallen trees.

March is known as the windy month for a reason. It’s a month of transition, and where there’s transition in the weather, there is wind. As the sun rises higher in the sky and the air heats up, all that warm air rises, clashing against the cold surface temperatures and causing the wind to blow. Whenever we feel the wind blowing, we are actually experiencing turmoil in the weather system: a transition in the seasons, a front moving in, a storm blowing through.

Wind is an agent of change and renewal. It doesn’t just push clouds and usher in cold and warm fronts; it also cleans out dead wood in the trees. Without the protection of foliage, those gusty March winds act as a scouring brush through the woods, knocking down whatever is dead, weak, or unprotected. It’s Mother Nature’s way of cleaning house. The old must be stripped away to make room for the new.

What is true in nature is also true for us human beings. Any kind of change or transition in our lives brings winds of conflict and stress as we resist letting go of our current state to allow for the new state to come in. The bigger the change, the stronger the winds, and the more tension and stress that come along with them.

Eventually, everything settles down again into a new season, a new normal, which lasts for a while before, inevitably, more change comes along. Such is life. Nothing stays the same for long. Change is the only constant.

As I walk around the property taking in the damage from the recent winds, I think of the violence that ripped these branches from the trees and brought them to the ground. As the dead wood get torn away, what remains are the strongest, healthiest parts of the tree—those that will continue to bud and bring forth new growth in the season ahead. The tree—if it is still standing after the winds blow through—is thus streamlined and better able to withstand future storms as they blow through.

Is that not true for us as well? Change is never pleasant. It always brings conflict and pain, sometimes a great deal of it. But it’s a healthy process, and if we can make it through it still standing, it renews us for the journey ahead.

What can we do to make this process of change and renewal less stressful?

Well, first we can accept it as natural and not fight it. That isn’t an easy thing to do, but speaking from personal experience, I can attest to the fact that the less resistance we put up, the more quickly we can get through the transition to the peaceful place on the other side.

The other thing we can do is take an active part in this process of change and renewal. This means making regularly looking for things that aren’t producing positive results in our life—habits, beliefs, old emotional baggage, toxic relationships, even excessive material possessions—and pruning them away, so that when the winds of change blow through our lives, there’s less resistance in the process.

That’s kind of what this season of Lent is about, isn’t it? Through fasting and reflection, we seek to strip out what is not working, simplify our lives, and deepen our spiritual connection to the divine.

Alright, enough of the philosophizing. I have spring cleaning to do. Time to fire up the chainsaw and get to work …

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