Fiendishly fluffy bunnies. Cavity inviting chocolates. Treats in colors that don’t exist in nature. Enough cheerful Easter goodies are born each year to fill baskets to overflowing. They make it hard to remember the holiday is anything more than a Hallmark moment. But Easter is a season, a timeless, ancient season of being reborn, renewed and transformed.
The oldest Christian holiday, Easter focuses on Christ’s triumph over death while the Hebrew Passover commemorates freedom from enslavement. No matter which you celebrate, both converge in a message of hope.
“Spring is God’s way of saying – ‘one more time’.” Robert Orben
Like nature’s seasons, life, too, is indeed short. Remembering its transience makes our own, and every life around us, even more valuable. That transience of life is symbolized colorfully each spring in Japan, when the appearance of cherry blossoms signal the festival of Hanami. Like the cherry blossom, each and every life brings color to the world. When lives are lost, summer is drained of sunlight, autumn becomes colorless and winter is long and empty to the loved ones who remain behind. Eventually, the weather turns mild and the season graduates to one of hope. That’s why spring is so much more than fuzzy little chicks and bright pink peeps. It symbolizes an exodus from dark times; a delivery from despair. Pretty apt for people who grieve.
“Every flower must go through dirt first”
Look around. Despite the winter’s incessant cold and snow, confused crocuses, daffodils and hyacinths stubbornly refuse to give up. Their bright green shoots have been pushing their way to life through brittle soil and soggy snow for weeks now. (“Uh, little dudes, did you see the weather?”) They hope; they persist. Maybe blooms like these inspired the iconic designer of relentlessly colorful women’s wear, Lily Pulitzer to say “Despite the forecast, live like it’s spring”.
Loss doesn’t make that easy. Grieving sends us into hibernation. Loss of marriage, a job, a home, and especially, people we love. In loss you can lose your identity, footing and direction. But, like those determined bits of green, doggedly pushing up through frozen ground, you, too, have the strength and heart to bloom again. Spring is the perfect time to go for it because, as Pablo Naruda said, “You can cut all the flowers, but you cannot keep spring from coming”.
Spring cleaning is hard work. It’s tough, really tough, to let go of things we’ve held onto so tightly. But only by slogging through the dark, memory crowded place can we make room for things to grow again. So, here are a few ways you can help make space for some new stuff to grow:
- Relax in the Unknown. Let’s face it. Unless we’ve done it before –everything is unknown. So, we might as well take a deep breath and go with it. If we don’t, we’ll always be holding our breath, waiting for the other shoe to fall — and we need both shoes to go forward.
- Accept what you can’t change. Like the words of the Serenity Prayer, ‘accepting’ doesn’t mean it’s easy or that you like it. It doesn’t mean you’ve forgotten what you’ve lost or that you’ll walk through life like a Stepford robot. It just means that when something is amputated, the more time you dwell in the why, the less time you’ll have to learn to walk again on your own.
- Focus on what remains. It’s more than easy to measure all you’ve lost. Boy, my list could fill an ocean! But, when the smoke clears, and you pick through the debris, you may just find cool things in the ruins. Maybe it’s your hidden strengths, or just the fact that you’ve made it through the fire and you’re still standing. Friends, family, home, and spirit. All remain in the place where gratitude lives.
- Welcome Spring Fever. Need a new look? A yoga class? A weekend away? When that little inside voice starts to chant “I gotta get outta Dodge” – do that. Spring brings longer days and brighter skies so even if you’re not all in, go for it anyway. Your life continues but how it does, is up to you.
- Plant some seeds. I mean literal, honest to goodness seeds. Find a pot, throw in some dirt and stick it on your windowsill. Flowers or herbs, it doesn’t matter. Just the very act of watching seedlings form incites hope that new life can grow, too.
No matter what is doable for you, one thing is for sure. Life returns. You may not see it on the calendar but it does come; it always comes. All that is frozen thaws. Snows melt away and new life emerges, even from the greatest despair and loss. It’s the true circle of life.
Grief has no timetable. It doesn’t accommodate schedules; it takes no holiday. When grief strikes, days become merely a leaden weight to lug around while we wait for change. But change we do. Like crawly caterpillars to butterflies and seedlings to bloom, our transformation can be agonizingly slow but it does come.
“Every new beginning comes from another beginning’s end.” Seneca
We will never be the people we were but why would we be? When you’ve slogged through bleak, hard winters, the light of spring can almost hurt your eyes. But we go for it anyway. Easter. Passover. Hanami. No matter the name, they each signify new beginnings and boy, could we use one of those.
Spring? Yes, please.