I lived in California for over 24 years, and every day was basically the same: perfect. The spring / summer average temperature was seventy degrees. The fall / winter average was sixty. The only time we had to wear coats was when we went skiing four hours away. The only time we got hot was when we worked out.
It was perfect.
Last November, I moved to Georgia. It was my first fall. The whole world turned red and orange and brown and I had seen nothing like it before.
Soon, fall turned to winter. Coats and gloves and furry hats. It was a white Christmas.
Soon, winter turned to spring. One day it was winter and the next, I walked outside and the cold didn’t bite my cheeks and earlobes. It was spring. I took off my coat.
Soon, spring turned to summer. Four months of 95 degree days. I kept my head down. I drank lots of water. I tried not to complain. One day, I came outside and the pressure was gone. A strong breeze came up on my back. I put on a sweater.
It’s fall again. I’ve been here a year.
In California, every day was the same, but here, every day is different. The truth is, I prefer seasons. Winter makes spring better. Summer makes fall better. I need change, and a little suffering, to value anything for the grace it is. Otherwise everything turns to gray.
Six days a week, we work. One day a week we rest. We work so we can rest extravagantly. We rest so our work can be turned into something like prayer and not toil.
Without days of rest and days of work, everything turns to gray.
As Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel says,
How else express glory in the presence of eternity, if not by the silence of abstaining from noisy acts? He who wants to enter the holiness of the day must first lay down the profanity of clattering commerce, of being yoked to toil. He must go away from the screech of dissonant days, from the nervousness and fury of acquisitiveness and the betrayal in embezzling his own life. He must say farewell to manual work and learn to understand that the world has already been created and will survive without the help of man. The world has our hands, but our soul belongs to Someone Else.