Yesterday morning, just after midnight, marked the earliest spring equinox since 1896. It has something to do with Pope Gregory XIII coming up with a somewhat convoluted formula about 500 years ago to make up for the .24 extra day in each regular calendar year. So today we are clearly entering spring in Maine. This weekend we finished thatching the lawns, took down the plow poles, rearranged the garage so the lawn mowers are easily accessible and the snow blower was put away for the season, and set up our Little Free Library in it’s summer home next to the mailbox on the edge of the road. The weather forecasters had been going back and forth since late last week about the possibility of a storm, you know the European vs. the US model, but when we checked early on a bright and sunny Sunday morning, both seemed to agree that we were likely to see just a light coating of snow. Around mid-day, the forecasters had a change of heart and posted a winter storm warning for all of Eastern Maine. In came the Little Free Library and out came the snow poles and the snow blower. When I got up this morning just after 6 there wasn’t a flake in sight. But no sooner did I make my way to the bathroom to wash-up and get dressed then the skies opened and huge, fluffy snowflakes turned the brown lawn into a blanket of white. It continues to fall.
As discouraging as this turn of events is, it does illustrate that as much as we like to have order in our lives, some things are just out of our control. Storms can be unpredictable and things don’t always go the way we would we like or hope they will. How many people have worked hard to earn a degree that they believe will set them on the path to a lifelong career only to discover that they are unable to land even an entry level job in their chosen field? Or consider someone who has discovered that the “perfect” match they found on a dating site didn’t quite turn out as advertised. Life isn’t static and predictable and thank goodness it isn’t. Change is what makes life interesting and each of us are unique human beings. It’s how we respond to these kinds of challenging circumstances that can make all the difference in not only our quality of life but our self esteem as well.
Since WWII, Alcoholics Anonymous have been utilizing what is commonly known as the serenity prayer at their meeting to remind their members that there is a limit to what they can control in their lives but also admonishes them to recognize that that doesn’t mitigate their responsibility to make the necessary modifications in their own lives and behavior. The actual author of the prayer, Reinhold Niebuhr, a protestant minister, likely had a broader audience in mind when he penned the original. In the 70s when I was in college, it was hard not to find this short verse on posters, coffee mugs, t-shirts and all manner of gewgaws. It was so commonplace and overexposed that it would be easy to dismiss it as trite. It is simple, but I also think provides a powerful and empowering lesson to us all. It goes something like this, God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. Something to think about when life throws you a curve.