This morning as I walked into the kitchen I was greeted by sunshine streaming through the window over the sink. I felt surprised by this new angle of sun filling the room, the bright, warm light on my face. Hope flooded me as I realized some of the things spring brings: green fuzz on trees; daffodils erupting from cold earth; birdsong in bushes.
By late morning, however, the sky seemed to take on a dreary deepening gray and within minutes rain was falling all around. As I drove home from the library, rain transformed to sleet splattering my windshield and I realized my anticipations may have been premature as I looked to the foothills covered in snow. Russian author Anton Chekhov captured the essence of what I was feeling:
“The snow has not yet left the earth, but spring is already asking to enter your heart.”
Rhythms of the Heart
My heart has a habit of surging ahead sometimes and I think about this verse from Ecclesiastes 3:1 which seems to speak to my impatience:
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.”
Poet Louise Glück wrote a spring poem titled “The Wild Iris”. In this poem a wild iris regains her voice and reminisces about her difficult journey. She speaks to the reader about the “end of my suffering” and “passage from the other world.” “That which you call death I remember,” she tell us, and “it is terrible to survive as consciousness buried in the dark earth.” The iris recalls hearing “branches of the pine shifting” and feeling “the stiff earth bending a little.” Finally when she has broken through and emerged to the surface, she discovers something vibrant and glorious: “from the center of my life came a great fountain, deep blue shadows on azure seawater.” The stark and beautiful language Louise Glück lovingly crafts in this tale of victory contrasts an intense dark silence with the exuberant colors in the fountain of self-expression:
“Whatever returns from oblivion returns to find a voice: . . .”
Just as the plants emerge and bud, the animals in the wilderness seem to have a perfect sense of timing as well. Birds, for example, know when to lift their frail-boned wings and journey arduous distances across the earth. The changing length of days and availability of food signal their response to migrate. If the long trek is by night, they navigate by the position of the stars. If by day, they position themselves by the sun and geographical markers like ridges or rivers. Some species of birds actually have a small amount of the mineral magnetite in their brains that scientists hypothesize may detect the invisible magnetic field around our planet. Examples of nature providing a wondrously savvy clock and compass!
I am really happy to welcome the birds to my backyard as my feeder has gone from this:
A Celestial “Common Ground”
Do you ever wonder about ancient humanity? Were the long nights of winter a phenomenon filled with fright? Or, was it perhaps viewed as a tucking in of the earth to pause and rest? And what did the ancients make of spring when days lengthened and the earth flourished in lush shades of green?
The spring or vernal equinox here in Colorado comes in the month of March as the tilted earth revolves around the sun. I like to think of the equinox as a celestial “common ground” because the sun is exactly above the equator and all parts of the earth experience approximately equal lengths of day and night. This typically happens on March 20th or 21st and September 22nd or 23rd. Be it a spring equinox or a fall equinox in the Northern Hemisphere or the Southern Hemisphere: the duration of night and day is the same for all people at this time. We share a special commonality with our global neighbors across our beautiful blue-green planet!
For me, the long tucking in of winter brings a springtime celebration of new life. I rejoice in the Easter story when the crucified Christ rises from the rock-hewn tomb to redeem our fallen world. Out of the depths of death and darkness comes the triumph of rebirth and light.
Whatever you choose to celebrate this spring across our varied and wonderful earth, may your Easter, Passover, Higan, Holi, Nowruz, Earth Day, or any other cultural and/or religious festivities be filled with peace and love from my little space on the planet to yours.
Blessings to all.