Perhaps the earth can teach us
As when everything seems dead
And later proves to be alive. —Pablo Neruda
The monkey grass looks dead with its brown edges. The butterfly bush finally seems to have seen the last bit of life, offering no more protection to the birds who hid among the dying blossoms and leaves during the winter. The ground appears to be filled with death, as everything has turned brown. I mow down the monkey grass, cut back the butterfly bush, and rake the dead leaves away from the ground. Earth has taught me that what once appears to be dead will live again. Fresh leaves from the mown monkey grass, green sprouts in the clipped back butterfly bush, and green shooting out of the brown ground all remind me that earth is so much wiser than I, and I learn that just when everything seems dead, it frequently later proves to be alive.
The Jew has been cleaning in preparation for the Passover celebration.
The Christian has spent a week preparing to mourn the death of Jesus and then to celebrate his resurrection.
Those who are Pagan, Wiccan, and Druid are celebrating the Spring Equinox, a time of fertility and conception, with some coloring eggs honoring fertility.
The Baha’i New Year has just begun.
The Hindu is celebrating Holi–in which the scriptures “commemorate good overcoming evil and in general are celebrating the colors of spring as the dead of winter has passed.”
Many of every belief and of no belief color eggs in hopes the Easter Bunny will leave them hidden for a hunt.
What has seemed dead in your life? Your career, your lifestyle, your home, your kitchen, your shape, your joy? As I reread Neruda’s words and look through the list of celebrations taking place right now, I have hope for new life in the midst of physical struggle. I have hope for new life in the midst of unrest in the greater world. I have hope for new life in the midst of a season of political jabs and personal unkindness witnessed. I can have hope, and so can you.
If any of the things I’ve mentioned feels dead to you, consider something radical–just like the celebrations different faiths are experiencing. Radical: very new and different from what is traditional or ordinary
- If your career feels dead, what could be more radical than considering that which tugs at your heart, though finding you frightened at the possibility of less income temporarily?
- If your way of living feels dead, why not be radical and get up earlier or sleep later, invite someone over for lunch whom you would normally be afraid to ask, or do something you’ve always wanted to do but felt needed to wait for another time?
- If your home feels dead, bring in new life. You can be a bit radical and learn about the power of blessing it or smudging it. Maybe you need to take out what feels dead to you, allowing space for what is left to feel alive. Your home should be a place of hope, not a place of dread. Spring cleaning is called that for a reason–the old is swept out as either the new is literally brought in or new energy can live where ‘stuff’ once filled the space.
- If your kitchen, meaning your eating habits, feels dead, make a radical change in the way you eat or cook or shop. Bring in fresh foods instead of relying on packaged items. Learn about how food grows from seeds and bulbs to be the bounty that calls out to come home with you, to nourish your body. Take a class to learn how to eat better, how to cook foods differently or at all, and make your kitchen a place of life, not death.
- If your shape leaves you feeling dead, make a radical change moving off of your couch and out of your recliner to find new life in the fresh air simply walking. The view of the new life in yards and woods is enough to inspire the most overweight and out of shape of us to keep moving.
- If your joy feels dead, make a radical change to bring it back to life. Find a therapist if necessary to help you sort out what is stealing your joy. Take time away from the busyness of everyone else’s needs to consider why you aren’t feeling joy, and if it’s your so-called friends who leave you feeling joyless and dead, sweep them out and allow space for people who can help you celebrate life.
Death requires some radical changes to result in new life. I don’t understand how it happens, but I know when it does that it’s the most wonderfully renewing feeling in the world. Life = Hope.
It is not just one belief system that celebrates in the spring. Everyone is celebrating new life in one way or another. The forsythia, the dogwood, the redbud, the tulips, the daffodils, and so much more are bursting to remind us that new life is within reach. The birds are singing more, and their eggs will soon hatch bringing even more new life, literally.
People are dying, babies are being born. There is death, and there is life. In all of this, there is hope, and that is what has been most meaningful to me this week.
Begin today to discover in what is dying that which is calling you to new life, and as radically as is necessary embrace it as your own.