Bridges, Becoming, and the In-Between
I like bridges: structurally, relationally, and as musical sections (especially when marvelously written by Taylor Swift.)
I also like the bridges of the calendar year, or the season between seasons, when the weather is cool enough to need a sweater, but sunny enough to need sunglasses. The end of winter, the threshold of spring, and where we are now at the end of summer, the autumnal cusp.
Summer and winter are obvious opposites, fire and ice. Besides the hot getting hotter, and the cold getting colder, these seasons are pretty predictable and single-toned. And juxtaposing elements of the two are at times humorously silly, like Santa Claus in swim trunks and Christmas in July (which, for the record, I am a fan.)
But both spring and fall are seasons of change. To bloom is an incremental process, and also to die. Because of their gradualism, they are “becoming” seasons, meaning they don’t have consistency throughout. Some regions experience these seasons more prominently than others. Living in Southern California may give one the illusion that things can, in fact, bloom all year. A perpetual summer with endless sunny days.
A late September visit to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, however, reminded me of the beauty of the in-between. A mostly green landscape had hints of bright autumn reds, oranges, and yellows, like a fun hairstyle with dyed tips. Fall forthcoming in whispers.
Recently I was speaking to a student who is in an in-between-seasons season, and she said she couldn’t make a decision. Neither the circumstances nor her feelings were consistent, so boundaries and needs might change from day to day. She didn’t want to go back on her word or go back and forth on a decision once it was made. She wanted it to be hot or cold. But the way I saw it, there couldn’t be a definitive “is” because it still is. It is happening. It is changing. It is occurring. It’ll be “is” until it “was.” Is to was, separated only by time, waiting, and surrender. This in-between-seasons season is a bridge of becoming, which takes time.
Our humanity makes it difficult to stand in between. Our expectations, entertainment, and society and paint life as linear, predictable, and simple to understand. Summer, winter; good, evil; 123, ABC. But the truth is we are always becoming. Life always is. The in-between is ubiquitous. We’re never who we were yesterday, and we still don’t know who we’ll be tomorrow. And what a beautiful thing that is! As much as I love the mild Los Angeles climate, year-round pleasantness is not the standard of how I want to live the faith or operate in my relationships.
I’m sure you can guess my favorite liturgical season: the Triduum, the in-between time of Lent and Easter. The liturgy actually continues from Holy Thursday to Good Friday and even through Easter Vigil, a three-in-one liturgy (sound familiar?) It perfectly encompasses an authentic spiritual journey: death and new life, dark and light, sorrowful and glorious, suffering and resurrection. It is simultaneously its own season on the Church calendar as well as a daily reality celebrated year-round. The both/and. The perennial in-between. The becoming. The bridge from the human to the Divine. And it’s upon this we live our faith and live in community! Is it easy? Of course not. Is it messy? Yes! But it’s genuine, and it‘s beautiful!
I hope you stop long enough to listen to the lessons in the alluring whispers of this in-between season. (But if you need a Taylor Swift bridge to listen to, I recommend Champagne Problems and Death by a Thousand Cuts.)
Original artwork by Krista Corbello