It’s the time of year again when we are reminded of the cycles of life rather than the linear nature of time. Spring shows her face in my back yard first through tiny spring beauties, followed by redbuds, daffodils, hyacinths, tulips, and forsythia. Oh, and leaves. Lots of new leaves. My mother used to say annually, “I love that particular green that can only be found in early spring.”
On the occasional sunny day this season, I find myself heading to a Delaware County Preservation Parks for a walk, usually hurrying toward the wooded paths first. There is so much to experience! The symbiotic connections of trees with other plants in the woods is glorious in spring as subtle colors burst forth at all layers of the forest. Of course, the mud yields its own stories: what animals have passed this way? Are those little animal prints alongside adult ones? Trees provide another story: Eggs in the nest? Sap rising? Maple sugar?
The blessing every cycle is participation in rebirth, and re-rebirth. Christians call it resurrection for Easter festival (originally a pagan spring festival). Resurrection also can mean regeneration, renewal and resurgence. There are ceremonies for seed-planting, return of leaves, birth of animals, and longer days throughout the world where the seasons change. Nature’s wake-up call is upon us in the northern hemisphere, stirring us from our long, hunkered-down resting season. New opportunity for a reinvigorated life awaits!
Spring also brings labor. The trees and plants open their leaves and flowers, but underneath the lovely visuals, there is a lot of energy pushing against gravity as part of the cycle of survival. Spring, likewise, brings new energy for our own labors. The fall and winter holidays are long gone, and summer is on the horizon. In the meantime, who will we become this year? What will burst forth from us? What beauty shall we bear? And what kind of energy will it take? These questions are spiritual questions of the season. They require a mustering of our strength, calling it up and forward.
Spring is the season of experimental beginnings. What might I try that is of interest to me and to others — that which serves the world better? What changes need to happen in my life or in my community or both? Perhaps a chuckle might be relevant here after reading this list of questions: what are the right questions for our lives?
I believe that resurrection or resurgence season is the time for play, laughter, experiment, and hope-filled direction, even if the job is drudgery or the family is in turmoil. There is a seed waiting to be planted in each one of us. It is getting ready to grow. With the seedling comes intention about the fruit we wish to bear as summer and fall cycle around again. This intention focuses on what gift we wish to bring into the world.
My walk in the woods this afternoon began with great agitation about a situation that has gone awry in my own life. By the end of the time in the trees, I was imagining a different future, a sense of direction and greater calm. I talk to Spirit best in the woods or near water, so I have to take myself there to refocus on my intention. This day, I noticed the wildflowers pushing up through dead leaves and mud, and took care not to trample them. The beginning of resurgence is very fragile. New seeds with attached intentions need to be tended as well. Nature brings the resources and the energy every year, and we partner with the intending and tending.
May your intentions be blessed and your seeds grow fervently as you tend them this season; may your experiments be fruitful indeed.
Rev. Dr. Lisa Withrow is Dewire Professor of Christian Leadership at Methodist Theological School in Ohio and an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church, East Ohio Conference.