Spring is my favorite season. The promise of new life. Little green things popping up their heads after a long rest, to greet the world. This year spring seems particularly poignant and somewhat fragile to me. It’s been an eventful year. I have fully embraced sheltering in place, it was not difficult for me to do so. Perhaps because for the first part of it I was staying at home to care for my dying husband. And for the last part of it I was staying at home and doing my inner grief work and learning what it means to be a widow. And much of what that involves is re-creation in my life. Who do I wish to be? The truth is I have been single for much longer than I have been in relationship, but there is something different about widowhood. Other widows I have spoken with talk about the difficulties, and the gifts, of living alone after cohabitating with another person for 20, 30 and 40 years. I do not have that experience. My husband and I were only married for a little less than two years. Together in romantic relationship for a little more than 3 years. Even though we had known each other for 40 years. So learning how to live alone was simply a return to what passes for normal for me. And shelter in place simply provided an opportunity to fully sink into a grief process, which I believe is necessary in order to successfully rejoin life. I strive for balance in all my affairs. Having been a black and white, all or nothing sort of person for so much of my life, I’ve learned that such extremes rarely serve me well. So during shelter in place, I did go out to perform weddings. Most of these were outdoors, and all of them involved following the guidelines for COVID: masking up, staying six feet away and frequent use of sanitizer. And now, here we are. Opening up. In so many ways! I am beginning to contemplate travel and doing more things in person. I’ve had one vaccine, the second will happen later this month. I am also contemplating re-creation. After 8 years of losses and moves and changes, I have experienced no small amount of Post Traumatic Stress. Now that I am settled in to what emerged from all that upheaval. And beginning to see signs of lessening of the anxiety, the need for more resting time, the need to just be and stop doing. I am revisiting some things I began before the full stop of dealing with a sick and dying husband. I am feeling excitement. It is cautious excitement at this point, but it is still excitement. And collectively, this nation has been opening up. As more and more people get vaccinated, shelter in place restrictions begin to ease. As we have a new government once again fully functioning with an emotionally healthy leader, the country is beginning to get back on track. I still experience deep sadness and dismay at the racism and misogyny that came out of the shadows to gloat during the previous administration. While at the same time I am grateful that they have come out of those shadows. Because only light can heal the darkness of generations of racism and misogyny. So I am feeling the consciousness of renewed hope that is spreading. It has occurred to me that we had a virus take over during one of the darkest times in our country. That is some strong metaphorical significance right there. Now we have new hope and new light taking over both the darkness and the virus. New life. And so I fully and completely embrace spring and all that it brings. I appreciate the metaphor of new life in all areas of my life and in the life of this country.
This time of year certainly is rich in meaning isn’t it? We have spring. We have lent.
As I sit here on this rainy, snowy day, I find myself, not for the first time, wondering if spring will EVER come. And yet, I do see signs of spring: my horse is shedding his winter coat, I can hear birdsong every time I step out the door, and little green things are popping up out of the ground.
And it is March. I like to think of March as March Forward with Purpose month. It is a good intention to set at this time of year. There are both inner and outer calls for us at certain times of the year. Winter calls us to move into a quieter, less active place, one where we contemplate more and do less. Spring, on the other hand, indicates movement. This is the time when we begin to implement the ideas that came to us during winter; those ideas that we hopefully nurtured and developed.
And while we are marching forth with purpose, those of us with religious leanings are contemplating this Lenten season. What to give up for Lent? The literal of fasting usually means giving up food, or certain types of food. I prefer the metaphorical translation of Lent. This season is a good reminder to go within and discover types of thinking, or beliefs, that no longer serve us very well, and give them up, replacing them with something more productive. And because it happens every single time I mention this, I will also add that this does not mean shaming yourself for having unproductive thoughts. There is a reason they are there. The reason is not really important. What is important is to recognize that they simply don’t apply to your life anymore. Release with gratitude and love, and replace with something more productive.
I found this meme on Facebook and wanted to share it, because I think it is good advice for what to give up this season. I want to add a disclaimer here, the meme says that Pope Francis said the words. I did some research and could find no evidence that this is true. They are still good words however, and a perfect way to begin Lent.
Hopefully you will be successful at this. I’d love to hear about your journey!