Dearest monks, artists, and pilgrims,
The spring equinox has arrived (either last night or this morning depending on where you are in the world). I offer an excerpt from my reflection for Sacred Seasons, which is our yearlong self-study retreat which invites you through the 8 Celtic thresholds of seasonal wisdom.
The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing.
I believe deeply that the seasons have a great deal of spiritual wisdom to offer us if we make space to listen. They teach us of the cycles and seasons of the earth and of our own lives. We are invited into the movements of blossoming, fullness, letting go, and rest, over and over again. Just like the lunar cycles of the moon's waxing and waning, so too does the body of the earth call us into this healing rhythm.
The spring equinox is when the sun hovers above the equator, and day and night are equal length. This is considered the New Year in Persian tradition as well as the astrological calendar. Spring is a time of balance, renewal, and welcoming new life into the world.
As the northern hemisphere enters the season of blossoming we are called to tend the places of our lives that still long for winter's stillness as well as those places ready to burst forth into the world in a profusion of color. It takes time to see and listen. Around us the world is exploding in a celebration of new life, and we may miss much of it in our seriousness to get the important things of life done.
Poet Lynn Ungar has a wonderful poem titled "Camas Lilies" in which she writes: "And you — what of your rushed and / useful life? Imagine setting it all down — / papers, plans, appointments, everything, / leaving only a note: "Gone to the fields / to be lovely. Be back when I'm through / with blooming." Spring is a time to set aside some of the plans and open ourselves to our own blooming.
There is a playfulness and spontaneity to the season of spring that invites us to join this joyful abandon. As the poet Hafiz writes, spring is a time for singing forth and celebration. We are called to both listen deeply to the blossoming within ourselves as well as to forget ourselves — setting aside all of our seriousness about what we are called to do and simply enter the space of being. In this field of possibility we discover new gifts.
On my daily walks I have seen clusters of crocuses thrusting themselves out from the ground into the brilliant sunlight. The branches of cherry trees begin to hum, preparing to burst forth. Small shoots are pressing outward, anticipating their explosion into a pink spectacle of petals. And in my presence to this dynamic energy I discover places within me humming and bursting forth. I notice my own deep longings wanting to emerge in vibrant ways.
The fertility and flowering of spring speaks of an abundantly creative God who is at the source of the potent life force beating at the heart of the world. Created in God's image, we are called to participate in this generous creativity ourselves. Our own flowering leads us to share our gifts in service to others.
In the Hebrew Scriptures the promise of God's abundance is often conceived of as blossoming in the desert. In that harsh landscape, a flower bursting forth from the dry land is a symbol of divine generosity, fruitfulness, and hope. Hope is a stance of radical openness to the God of newness and possibility. When we hope, we acknowledge that God has an imagination far more expansive than ours.
What are you seeing around you? What are you feeling within?
I also continue my Lenten series at Patheos this week on A Different Kind of Fast. This week I invite you to fast from certainty and trust in the great mystery of things. Click here to read the reflection>>
With great and growing love,
Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE
Photo © Christine Valters Paintner