Rain darkens the streets and dims the sun’s lamp. I take off my hat, feeling the rain’s speckle on my head.
Morning, milky-soft. A cardinal flits in the woodland strip behind the garage. Green nubs push up through the winter-pressed loam.
Long winter, full of blank weeks broken by the bitter days. Snows that fell a foot at a time, then froze in grimy banks along the streets. Days when I paid the extra 50¢ for milk at the upscale convenience shop because it was too cold to walk the extra five blocks to the Stop & Shop.
Now crocuses are opening like children’s eyes in the front yard and daffodils stretch their green arms all along the sidewalks. Trees are tipped with sticky purple or brushed with gauzy yellow. Spring, stalwart, persistent, is laying siege to winter.
All fall and winter, I didn’t write. Not posts, not poetry, not journal entries; I sent emails (the new long-form epistle) to a few close friends on a daily basis, and I hunkered down. I finished one semester and started another all in the cold gray blanket of winter. I took standardized tests, filled out applications, submitted them, and then spent the wait on Sanskrit, Tibetan, and the small communities I work with in New Haven. Winter was a hibernation, like it usually is—but the past 18 months have been one long reduction in my creative metabolism, regardless of the season, an internal winter. Gradually I’ve turned my energy more and more to the classroom and my sanghas, until (honestly) I wasn’t writing or photographing much at all. I miss the creativity, but I also chose to focus myself on other areas, in part as preparation for possible graduate school. Open hours became the open pages of dictionaries and glossaries. I’ve bent to foreign grammars and classic texts, and felt my hours bent by them.
Now, a change of season, internal and external. I was accepted into the Master’s of Divinity program at Harvard Divinity School, and I’ll be moving to Cambridge in June. A very new life, in some ways. An apartment instead of a community-based sangha. Full-time graduate student life, and not simply the earnest but side-line participation of an auditor. A return to basic spiritual questions: what is faith? What is practice? What is the dharma to me? What am I in the dharma? A new city, even if I won’t be leaving New England and her winters. Hopefully, as I shuffle my responsibilities and obligations around and have, in some senses, a chance to shape a different kind of daily life than I’ve had in New Haven, I’ll also be able to return to writing and photography on a daily basis. There are other changes too, still only intimated at, unfurling through the spring and summer, the long internal winter opening into what may be an equally long and newly verdant spring.