007. Winter-Spring (A Taoist Duality)




Michael J. Genevro
(22 May 2007)

And so we come to the end of another Semester and another school year.

There is always such a mixture of joy and sorrow at the end of a class and even more at the end of an academic year.

In many ways this Semester holds a special place in my heart and my soul. As the Semester began in the midst of Winter, our daughter LaPria was in the last days of her pregnancy, carrying our first grandson, Joseph. Then, on January 25, 2007, Joseph emerged into the dim Winter light - the birth of a new generation for our family and a new beginning even in the darkest and coldest days of the year.

This Semester also marks, at an infinitely less important level, my first experience teaching through a full Semester at Canada College.

I understand the rhythm of the quarter system - settle into your seat, take out your lucky pen and write your mid-term, pour on the coffee and finish your final, have a nice life.

A full Semester seems so long. I look back on my Getting Started in Business class list from January and the names and faces blur into a foggy, dream-like landscape.

The Semester is so long - and yet we have come to the end of the Semester - the Spring Semester at Canada College.

It always fascinates me - the way Canada has a Fall Semester and a Spring Semester. Somehow Winter gets lost, gets ignored - almost like we could blot out Winter with our bright California sunlight.

And, yet, despite all our striving to remain forever young and light, we cannot escape Winter - we cannot flee from those short, cloud-filled days when the sun is only a bright disk emerging now and then through the blue-gray shadows.

The Spring Semester begins in mid-January. A casual glance at the world around us catches barren trees and skeleton-like shrubs, intermingled with the uniform, seemingly lifeless evergreen background.

In a beautiful, moving essay about the death of his mother, George Will recalled the words of anonymous peer, "God gave us memory so that we could have roses in winter."

"Roses in winter" that phrase ran through my mind throughout the early weeks of the Semester. Everywhere I walked, I searched for roses in winter. For a while, I saw a few remnants from the last growing season. Then, one bright January morning, I noticed roses in a public garden near the Sunnyvale train station. I ran with my camera to capture their image. As I arrived, the diligent city gardner was pruning the bushes and the roses I had seen from a distrance fell to cement - despite my pleas for mercy, for the flowers and for myself.

I did not find the roses in winter I sought.

However, if I look closely at the world, even in mid-January, I can see the stirring of new life. First, the white-purple blooms of magnolias breach the gray surroundings. Then, the buds of December fill and the pinks and whites of January punctuate the gnarled, gray-brown branches of the few remaining fruit trees from the Valley of the Heart's Delight. Each day brings the appearance of new growth. Each week one wave of blossoms die and another wave of color takes center stage for a moment in the deepening, yellow winter light.

And so, in a paradox of stillness and motion, Winter flows into Spring.

Are Winter and Spring truly separate seasons? Or does one merge into the other forming an inseparable, Taoistic, Winter-Spring duality?

Now on the cusp of the dazzling, bleached white Summer light, we come to the end of this Spring semester.

In the world of Quantum physics, there is a phenomenon where sightless, infinitely minute particles once joined together continue to influence each other across the seemingly endless expanse of the Universe.

Now, we go our separate ways. Nevertheless, like the particles of Quantum physics, we remain linked together everywhere we go - across time and across space. And so, there is no goodbye - only a farewell - a "Fare you well" in your journey. And remember, that even in the darkest, coldest days of Winter, life is stirring, life is emerging, the light is growing and babies named Joseph grace us with their wondering presence and their promise of eternal hope.

May you always find the light within you; may you always walk in the presence of that light - wherever your path calls you.

Fare You Well ...Until We Meet Again