Tag Archives: Spring

Spring Cleaning

Dear Sor Juana,

Young office workers catching the first rays of real sunshine in a while this week basked on the soon to be yellowing grass surrounding the Square. Catching news in real time over tacos, yiros, baguettes and even an old fashioned tomato sandwich, the city was coming to life after a cold winter. Bursts of direct light beamed into conversations bringing delight with it as friendships were warmed, secrets traded and plans made.

At this time of year the notion of spring cleaning comes into its own, after all sunshine is the best disinfectant. The nesting is over, the vines are beginning to sprout and signs of new life are everywhere. But with every beginning the underside is usually an ending or a fading away, where metaphoric palliative care workers make way for midwives. Both of these roles are about being ‘with’ and this seems to be part of the call for the pilgrim – to be with. I am reminded of Emmanuel (God with us) that ancient for the Divine who stands with you against the enemy. In this time of light you know of its presence because of the dark. Sor Juana, how did you greet the new season, leave the dark and come with your God into the light?

Expressing your call to be with lead you to be with those infected by the plague and no amount of sunshine could blast through and take that disease off the streets. Our times have plagues too, with names like Fear, Complicity, Polarity, Scarcity. Getting down to wash those infected by these plagues also risks you catching the disease and requires (for me, anyhow) regular inoculations of good medicine in the company of good people. These are the conversations where we hold and are held, midwifed into warmer days and palliation is dispensed. These are the days to have those conversations to do some spring cleaning, and cleansing, inside and out as we prepare ourselves for the summer ahead – a time of harvest followed by ferment, more true than form following function.

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Out on a limb

Dear Sor Juana,

I am in the northern hemisphere for the beginning of Lent. The season makes more sense on this hemisphere. Early hints of spring: swallows find their way to medieval rooftops and the snow starts to shrink in the distance.

Spring goes out on a limb, stretching into new spaces, not always quite ready to be occupied.

Working to the edge of our discomfort is where growth happens.

Out on a limb

Out on a limb.

Sor Juana, you were in my thoughts while I looked over Assisi, I wondered how you started your Lents? Perhaps you took yourself to the edge of your comfort zone, to find out just how far you needed to go? Francesco and his Friars, ceaselessly tramping around their world joyously proclaiming, working and praying would have had more than the echoes of their voices bouncing off the stones! Building fame through faith and fortitude, was not what his father had in mind for his son – taken to the edge for sure like so many parents past and present! Standing in front of the baptismal font at the family church of San Rufino I took pity on all parents who in good faith welcome a child and then the child belongs the world, and we get taken to our growth edges. As a mother this happens first in our bodies, our hormones, our blood and bones. Then the time comes and we burst with new life. (Perhaps pregnancy is a bit like Lent too. I am in the early stages of my grand mothering apprenticeship and find I am remembering pregnancies and the journey to parenthood most days.)

Going out on a limb is part of any journey. You take a turn in the road, come across an obstacle that needs to be traversed, limbs appear at many junctions and you can go around them, ignore them or go out on them. The uncomfortable places lead you to rely on the generosity of others, wait patiently for the moment to pass, or perhaps be silent to listen and feel explicitly what lesson the limb is inviting you to experience. Staying with the limb and not retreating to a comfortable place is what Lent is about for me, it is where you see the buds appearing, first signs of fruit and nectar being gathered up to make honey.

Biting into harvested fruits and honey is another season and another kind of courage.

Spring Love

The heady scented blend of freesias, jasmine and native frangipani are inhaled and fill me with confidence that the season of spring is here. The buds on the Geraldton wax are synchronising with the roses and coming into fullness as a duet. It is however the grevilleas that support the bees and honey eaters to fill their hives and nests and bring the promise of new life, that ground me in this season of spring.

The vineyards that I see every day are beginning to green, just as the baby birds are feathering up.  It is no wonder that spring and love inspire poets, writers, composers, artists – spring and love were made for each other.

In the beautiful new collection of Australian Love Poems 2013 there is a haiku from one of Australia’s greatest living poets and lyricists, Paul Kelly writes:

Time is elastic

Together, days disappear

Apart, seconds crawl.

Distilled in new words, the essence of the longing of separation and the eternity of union is the duet of spring and love. I can’t really imagine one without the other – the blossom,  the expectation, the sanctity.

Keeping yourself in springtime and in love is knowing that the seasons all give way to one another in a virtuous cycle. It is one of the reasons I have loved living near vineyards, which I have fortunately been able it do most if my life. The seasons unfold and remind me of all the lessons of life – pruning, renewal, harvest, rest, new beginnings from old growth.

The attraction of spring can also mask the reason it is here – to herald a new era and to let the old season pass. It is seductive to want to be in springtime all the time … and it is not possible.  What is possible is to know that spring comes and love comes back to life even when it might have looked dead.

I am constantly falling in love, with new ideas, new stories, old stories, new people, people who have been with me for a long time and each time spring turns up I fall in love with spring too.  I sprout some new shoots, or birth a new part of my being, or breath in deeper to inhale the new fruits take  shape.

As I enjoy the spring, my God is getting bigger and there is more than enough room in the nest for everyone.

The seeds sown in the dark, are all finding their way to greet the light on the surface and are dancing now as new life in the sunshine and being soaked every now and again by the heavy seasonal showers.  I have even been kept awake by this full moon, insisting I remain vigilant to springtime and love.

The Canticle of the Sun by Francis of Assisi must have been written for this time and it is with great joy that I too can proclaim:  “so much in love with all that I survey” this spring.  His namesake in Rome is announcing spring; just as clearly as the magpie does; and like the maggie, is swooping down from the nest to remind us that spring is here and it is time to protect all that we love that is in the nest. Morality anxiety must give way to Big Love.

My favourite blessing to sing is the Long Time Sun Song and I offer it to all you who are reading this blog so that you too might have your spring enriched.

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Trinity Spring and Harvest

Dear Hildegard,

In less than three months I will be taking my pilgrimage off shore to Italy, Ireland, UK and a UAE.  I am preparing in various ways the body, mind and soul. I am reflecting on the work of David Whyte as central to the journey; and knowing that it might be just as important not to be prepared. I am remaining as open as I can be to the elemental experiences that lie ahead.

As part of the preparation, I have been reviewing Whyte’s The Three Marriages. I remain drawn to the thought that “sometimes the best thing we can do is to hold a kind of silent vigil beside the part of us that is going through the depths of a difficult transformation” (p340f).

I have actively been keeping vigil and the liturgical seasons of Lent and Easter have been a wonderful companion to me in this time.  As the Easter tide opens, I find I am falling in love with myself and  my work again.  This is both a relief and a joy. I have some of the symptoms and signs of falling in love. I find myself smiling and giggling. I think about what I am going to wear and what I am going to look like, people are saying I am looking younger and brighter -even glowing!  There is an innocence and awe  too. Child-like, I am embracing this new beginning and trying to come to this new space, fresh.  I am still finding old habits creeping in and at times the old lover haunting me like a phantom or even stalking me like a domestic violence perpetrator. These moments are now infrequent and more often than not, impotent.

For Whyte it is not a work-life balance, but a marriage of marriages. This trinity is three marriages: to our self, our partner and our work.

“Doing something innocent, dangerous and wonderful all at the same time may be the perfect metaphor for understudying one of the demands made by a marriage of marriages: the need to live in multiple contexts, multiple layers and with multiple people all at the same time without choosing between them. A kind of spiritual and imaginative multitasking, but in which we attempt to be present to everything occurring, to have a foundation that will hold them all and not be distracted by passing details” (p352).

The foundations are holding me well and the tedium of distracting details are falling away as they no longer serve me (or in reality never served me at all).

I am in a virtual and real time cornucopia.

I am reconnecting with old friends. I have been selected to present at the next TEDx event in Adelaide. I have had surprise visits from people special to me who have done me the honour of seeking me out in their precious time in Adelaide. I have received happy news of love and commitment. I have been greeted and affirmed in familiar and surprising places.  I am blessed. And on top of all this, my physical pilgrimage is getting closer by the hour.

As the snow melts in your homeland Hildegard, and the spring flowers start to find their way to the sun (the Easter season makes more sense in the Northern hemisphere than in the South), I can see and feel and touch and taste and smell and intuit that spring has come in my heart too.  The steps I am taking in my journey seem a lot lighter right now. (This could well be preparing me for what lies ahead and so be it.)  But for now, my basket is overflowing with all the fruits of the season and the season is both spring and autumn.

Your love, dear Hildegard, of all things green, and your instruction to be green and to do green things, I think is not just about creation but also about ourselves. I hear it as a call to renewal and spring time.  You reflect that when we warm ourselves by the fire in the winter, it is to store the heat and energy to move closer to the light so we can stay ‘wet and juicy’ and catch the greenness of good works and the energy of the heart.

“The soul that is full of wisdom is saturated with the spray of a bubbling foundation” (cited in Fox, M  Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen p.64). The intimacy that occurs when we connect ourselves to our foundations, keep watch and allow for both the spring and the harvest is a pilgrimage all of its own.  The journey is fuelled by the energy of love that delivers abundant justice for ourselves and the planet – all fruits of our labour and our love become visible once again. Maybe Whyte’s Three Marriages is your Trinity ?

“A flame is made up of brilliant light, red power, and fiery heat. It has brilliant light that it may shine, red power that it may endure, and fiery heat that it may burn” (Hildegard of Bingen The Ways of the Lord p.68).  The marriage of marriages weaves my commitments together. Being in love with more of those marriages brings a harvest in my season and the green shoots of spring in yours.