Rites of Spring


DSC_0045I love the turning of the seasons. A change in weather, a change in time, a change in patterns, and a change in our rituals. Spring feels like the new year to me. A sense of rebirth, a sense of renewal.

There are biological renewals. Animals are with their young or in the midst of mating season. Buds and new growth begin in spring. The astronomical calendar begins in spring with the first point of Aries, right around the time of the vernal equinox. Vernal, doesn’t that just sound like the earth and the soul coming alive again?

Gardeners start seeds, birders look for the arrival of spring flocks, runners shed layers. For most climes, spring is a return to warmer weather, but I still relish the brushes with brrrrrr before the onslaught of summer heat begins.

In my religious tradition, spring is the center of the Christian year. Easter, the crucifixion and story of the resurrection bring us together. We plant seeds and hide eggs in traditions symbolizing everlasting life. New life and awakening. We wake from the chill of winter, and sometimes while still blanketed in the depths and cold, we find hope and renew our faith.

Most religious and spiritual traditions have important rituals and traditions in spring. I love thinking of the similarities and contrasts, knowing many of us are finding hope and spiritual traction in the spring. For some, it’s the simple joy of a few more minutes of light each day.

A few of my favorite spring traditions are personal ones. They are things I do to celebrate and remember the hope of new beginnings.

Buying daffodils. Their blooms brighten the dullness of late winter and remind me that wonderful things renew.

Celebrating Easter. Usually we all gather at my older sister’s house, reveling in food and family and a quiet day together.

Volunteering for the food drive. Our local food bank has a food drive in the spring and they seek volunteers to greet folks at grocery stores, hand out donation bags, and remind people about the food drive. I need to volunteer more, but I love helping for one or two volunteer shifts during each drive. It’s my seventh year and it’s so easy to show up at my neighborhood grocery store and say hi to people. According to the food bank, two volunteer greeters for two and a half hours will generate enough food to feed a family of four for three weeks! I welcome the food drive and the feeling of the whole town coming together to help.

Breaking for spring! My environmental educator job follows the school calendar, so I usually take a few days off around the spring break. Mostly, I make it a stay-cation and take some hikes and enjoy extra time for reading, sleeping in, and a few spring chores. This year, I’m planing a weekend road trip to Nebraska for sandhill crane viewing, some spring hiking, some running (and a little waddling), a concert with my sister, and some time to work on next steps.

Staring up at the stars. I first learned the constellations of spring in my college astronomy class, so I tend to know these stars the best. I love to spend a night in a quiet dark spot, cuddled in a sleeping bag, with my red-gel flashlight (to help with night vision) and my navy blue round plastic star guide in hand. It’s quiet, the sky is big, and it all comes around once again.

How do you celebrate spring? How do you renew?

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