Behold, my friends, the spring is come; the earth has gladly received the embraces of the sun, and we shall soon see the results of their love!
This is a magic time for most of us; the time that winter has faded away and the world formally begins again. This is spring, the vernal equinox, and the time for new beginnings. We associate spring with new beginnings because we see this happening all around us. Snowdrops and crocuses are appearing on lawns. Trees and flowers are starting to bud. Animals are preparing for mating and giving birth. Gradually there are more and more hours of daylight. This is the time when we make icons and symbols of many things that harken to freshness and birth-baby chicks, lilies, eggs, rabbits, and lambs. It is a time of return, rebirth, and renewal. It is spring.
For most of human history spring has been not only the start of the earth’s actual year; it has also the start of the human calendar year. The idea of the year starting in January is a relatively recent idea, and it does not align with what nature shows. For most of our existence we humans have had to figure out how to work with what nature gives us in order to survive. So human societies reflect the real world around us in our important activities, rituals, and symbolic practices, especially when the messages from that real world are so obvious and strong. And for most of our history, what we call “spring” was what started the “New Year.” We do the important human things in conjunction with the natural cycles, for we are joined with the workings of the earth. Earth gives us the clues and we respond. Spring is really the start.
It is as if the earth is saying, “OK! Let’s go; let’s do this again.” And we humans do that in myriad ways, some big and some small, We literally “clean house,” as many of us are doing spring cleaning now, and literally sweeping out the old and letting in the new. We change our wardrobes, buying new clothes and wearing fabrics that have a brighter and lighter color scheme. We start gardens and plant seeds in the hopes of watching both new and returned growth in our surroundings. We take the potted plants we brought into the house last fall back outside and into the sun. And we participate in the myriad religious and mythic rituals that focus on stories of rebirth and renewal, be it Easter, Passover, the Persian house cleaning and fire-jumping ritual of Noruz, or the April Buddhist celebration of the New Year. The whole universe seems to be “starting over,” and offering renewed hope and promise and another chance to perhaps do things just a little better. Universally, we embrace being reborn, looking forward, and working toward the future.
Spring does feel a little different this year. After a year-plus of pandemic fear, lockdown, closed or limited venues, new schedules, and new communication methods for everyone, this spring arrives with a special sense of hopefulness and possibility. It is fitting, perhaps, that the first day was a relatively warm and sunny one. It felt especially hopeful and brighter, and there is a chance that things are changing in some pretty important ways. After numerous mix-ups and problems, it seems as if the vaccine rollout is working much more smoothly, and people are looking forward to a return to seeing each other; to hugging, dining together, and much more. We humans are social animals, and while we did make some wonderful adjustments to the COVID situation, most of us simply want to be able to see friends, family, and pals in the ways we used to see them before. We want a re-birth of our old human ways of being and doing, and this may well be the time for that to happen.
So here’s to Spring! Here’s to the universe providing us an opportunity to witness the quiet miracle of rebirth and a chance to make it a part of our beings. It is quiet and it is a regular occurrence. But it is in no way ordinary. It is a repeated miracle that we are fortunate enough to experience once more. Enjoy.
The Dukes on YouTube
Here are two videos of the Dukes at The Kennett Flash and World Café a few years ago;