It’s that time of year again, when here in the western regions of North America the air turns colder while the sun stays warm. The intense heat–and this year, what heat!–is over and for us in British Columbia the fires while not extinguished everywhere are smaller and less threatening than two weeks ago. Dangerous smoke levels have relinquished their grip on our common life in most places.
Here in Kamloops we enjoy four seasons annually though it does seem we were robbed of summer this year. Winter however will definitely arrive early in November with snow likely by Christmas, a change for which the environment must prepare itself and us, erupting with glorious arboreal colour, bracing morning chills, newfound moisture afoot, pleasant refreshing breezes and what feels like a resting and coasting earthly home. Natural transitions noted, the change in climate brings for me pangs of sentiment and yes, anxiety.
Personally, the coming of fall is bittersweet. I think of so many of my own life transitions: from high school totally confused by the demands of undergraduate university studies; my first time away from home studying music in London, England (how does the song go: “Totally unprepared am I”); transition back to Canada and yet another university; my missionary years in Northern BC (I was a very poor missionary); new and innovative work back on Vancouver Island. Such a long list of new challenges and opportunities, all commemorated at this particular time of year, all risky and rather uncertain ventures but important parts of my personal story. If I once thought that I never took risks in life and love, evidence indicates otherwise. My mother used to quote Scott Peck to me: “You do take The Road Less Travelled.” And she was right.
During these last days of summer the radio and television are full of responses to the next wave (!) of COVID restrictions, precautions and anxieties. People are tired and confused and in some cases very angry. What does it mean to be safe anymore? When you walk into a restaurant how must one act and what must one do in order to be self-safe and safe for others? Were I returning to post-secondary education this year what should, or could I expect upon arrival on campus? Kathie and I have just cancelled a trip to Saskatchewan out of an abundance of caution. That very phrase is practised carefully by many right now, and loudly resisted by others. Many cry “it’s all about me and my rights” instead of what is best for us all who try to work, recreate and live together. “Who does Bonnie Henry think she is!” some shout.
The late Rabbi Jonathan Sacks makes a simple point in his lovely book: Morality: Restoring The Common Good In Divided Times. There is way too much “me” in today’s commonwealth and not enough “we.” This is not a new idea, but worth promoting and for that matter should be shouted from the housetops. As my title suggests (actually I created it to motivate you to read the text) we need to fall in love, if not with each other, then at least foster a love for community. It is possible to respect, value and engage safely and beneficially with each other. It’s not all about you or me. Life is about all of us together, doing what we can, with whoever is willing to join us, as time and circumstance allow, all facilitated by our own will, ingenuity and yes, receptivity. Community is a two-way street, both giving and receiving. Hope is alive and well if we seek it and make it a priority.