St. Patrick’s Day, Lent and spring

Michael Zeytoonian Collaborative Law, Perspectives

Saint PatrickThis is always a time of year that my creative juices get churning and a time that there’s so much going on beneath the surface.  This week is no different.  It’s funny that St. Patrick’s Day almost always occurs during Lent, a convergence of one of the most visible expressions of Irish culture and tradition with one of the core disciplinary practices of Christian spirituality.

Corned Beef and Cabbage traditional St. Patrick's Day mealBeing a little bit Irish and a little more Armenian, it’s also a time when my minority vote trumps the majority vote in my internal ethnic co-existence and eating corned beef and cabbage is allowed as an exception to the traditional meat fast during the forty days of Lent.  My Irish and my Armenian ethos, both deeply aligned with the underdogs in life, celebrate a minority victory.  Both the Irish and the Armenian in me smile; each acknowledging the gift of the other, each eager to share something with the other and both always appreciating the value of a good meal and a good time around the hearth.

Armenian Shamrock ButtonOnce the zealous yet good-spirited debating is done, they recognize the value and contribution of the other, lock arms in the unity of diversity and raise a pint of Guinness and a shot of Armenian cognac, while a spirited Celtic fiddler duals with a soulful Armenian oud player.  (One of my fantasies is an improvisational freewheeling jam session of traditional Armenian and Celtic musicians.)  In these undercurrent connections, there’s a small but important lesson to partisan politicians and others who can’t find common ground to embrace the value of the other side of the dispute, and that the greatest strength is in the union of the two different views.

And then there’s the coming of spring, the longer days and warmer weather.  We New Englanders will welcome this spring with far more open arms than usual after the worst winter in memory.  But we also seek out spring subconsciously for its transformative energy, bringing back life from the hibernation of winter.   As the last of the several feet of snow disappears, I wonder how these plants and flowers survived under all that.  Already, they waste no time pushing up through the ground, breathing, blossoming and growing again, unphased by the force of winter that so toyed with our human efforts.

They just hold their ground, stay within themselves, remain rooted and centered and wait, until the time is right.  And then, when the way has been opened for them and the requisite sun and light and water have come, they make their move, nourished by the forces of nature; a power that can withstand the cold and the snow and storms and a force that fuels a small plant or a blade a grass to drive through pavement.

When I started writing this blog post I had no thought of how it would connect with any theme of dispute resolution.  It started out as one of those “let’s take a break from the profession topics and focus on what’s going on in life” blog posts.  But as I went back and reread what was written, I realize that somehow, it has everything to do with how disputes can get resolved in non-adversarial ways.  I just didn’t see it at first.

Sometimes we need to just go back and look at things again, maybe the second time through a different lens.  Like it said at the beginning of this writing, there’s so much going on beneath the surface.