Nature's Promise of New Life


Happy April everyone!  I hope it’s pleasant where you are. We’re having some beautiful spring weather in Florida. It’s by far my favorite time of year. The temperature is mild. The bald cypress trees are sprouting new growth. The confederate jasmine perfumes our neighborhood with its outrageously lovely fragrance. Rose buds unfold after their long confinement. And like a sleepy mother bear, I grumpily begin my slow crawl out of a peaceful hibernation.
Throughout March the birds were unusually active and vocal. An especially intense bird I used to think was a bittern but now know is a red tailed hawk  has been screeching anxiously in the trees across the canal every day from dawn until dusk. He has a megaphone voice and it’s not easy to concentrate in the midst of that cacophony!  Apparently this is his subtle way of advertising for a mate. I guess he found one because I haven’t heard from him in a few days, thank goodness! I imagine he’s found the girl of his dreams and his beak is now otherwise occupied in picking up moss and twigs for their love nest.
I’ve been experiencing similar issues. In the past month I’ve been compelled to leave my cozy winter routine behind and juggle a challenging final round of tasks in preparation for my new book. I was talking about it with my publisher today and he reminded me of an astrological event I’ve been hearing about. I don’t know much about these things, but I’m told Mercury is in retrograde, and when this happens it creates problems with communication.
Sure enough, in the week when the sunspots were particularly bad, both computers acted up with technical problems, and last week my e-mail provider stopped working off and on for a couple of days. This at a time when my communication needs were far more pressing than normal! At times like this one is tempted to ask, “Why me?” Fortunately I’ve had the presence of mind not to take the planetary alignment personally!
I’m happy to report that despite the universe’s interference, as of this month this new baby of mine is in the “final trimester”and all is progressing normally. We’ll have some advance copies ready for the New York Book Expo in June and the projections point to an official July birth! What with the fourth of July fireworks and my granddaughter’s first double-digit birthday, I’ll have a lot to celebrate then.
I’m noticing a related spiritual theme here: the universal problem of stretching ourselves to satisfy our drive for species-preparation and powerful need for love, the ensuing communication glitches and chaos that accompany busy preparations for birth, and the joyous celebration of new life that follows. No wonder Easter occurs this time of year. I mean nobody really knows when the events that led up to Christianity’s birth actually occurred, right?  For all we know it could have been late August.  But no! Every soul knows that wouldn’t feel right or meaningful to anyone.
No matter how hard we may try, there is simply no way to separate Nature’s cycles from our own. The human animal is intimately tied to the physical world in every way. There’s an inherent congruence between every cycle and every form of life: mental and physical, psychological and spiritual, planet and solar system, self and other. Moreover, as I wrote to a reader who commented today in response to my post about the symbolic meaning of trees, every aspect of Nature has a lesson for us if we look for it. Our world shows us where we are and what’s coming next all the time. Today I’m feeling especially grateful for her promise of new life.

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0 Responses

  1. April is the cruellest month, after all.
    I think the fact that the Easter story is tied to the time of the Passover, which is in turn tied to the moon and the spring equinox is a good basis for it being a spring thing, whether you believe in the Passion story or not. And I agree, it just wouldn’t work in August!
    Happy Easter!

    1. There is something about April, isn’t there? Cruel and sweet, heartless and hopeful, old and new…all things seem to come together inside you in an especially poignant way that forces you to feel, to remember you’re alive. Happy Easter, dear Viv. Jeanie

  2. Thank you Jeanie, blessings on your spring and the birth of your newest child.
    Slouched in the chair, the marionette grew dustier by the day. Untouched for years, it sagged with its face turned away from the room, from the world. Its strings, once taut and sensitive had loosened and become tangled to boot.
    In her kitchen chair the old woman sat, similar in many respects to the puppet. Only she believed she didn’t have any strings, she was free as a bird. Yet the silence that roared in her little house proclaimed the true state of things: She was untouched for years and her heart strings were tangled to boot.
    Outside the winter was loosening its hold; the clots of snow were dissolving into earth. Frozen hills untangled themselves under the sun’s loving hands. Songs unfastened from the throats of birds and filled the mornings with joyous awakenings.
    She sat cupping her coffee mug. Her thoughts kept flitting back to the marionette. She hadn’t touched it for years. She hadn’t made it dance, she hadn’t made it leap.
    “I am too old,” she mumbled to the coffee that had begun to tremble in the mug she held.
    “Never,” said the picture of Jesus hanging above the table, “Resurrections happen all the time.”
    “What if he’s too broken?” she said to the ceiling.
    “Heal him,” the ceiling replied.
    “What if he’s angry for having neglected him all these years?” This she asked of the clock.
    “Ask his forgiveness, and then change your life,” it said in reply, “There’s still time.”
    “I’m afraid,” she said to the doorway.
    “So is he,” the doorway replied.
    Slowly she rose from the table. She folded her napkin and pushed aside the mug. Outside the icicles melted, dripping in three quarter time. The mound of snow that had hung over their awning detached and slid to the ground. Trees shook in themselves in slow motion, sending the last of the coldness away. And when they were through they were covered with petals as delicate as the breath of a child.
    There sat the marionette; twisted and distorted. She reached out a hand and tosseled his hair and instantly he looked up, eyes open, surprised.
    “I’m sorry,” she whispered.
    “I know,” he said, lifting his ancient, jointed arm, “me too.”
    She kneeled beside him, and gradually loosened his strings. One by one she held them, one by one she untied them, one by one she unthreaded them, one by one she disentangled the knots, one by one she unfastened the hitches. And as she did he reached out to her and removed the strings she only moments before believed she didn’t have. Now she knew they were real, for she felt them melt away. And with them years of stiffness; with them years of bitterness; with them years of limitations and lies; with them her old way of life.
    “What else do you need to be free?” she wept.
    “Just to be seen and listened to, and invited into your world. And you?”
    “To know you will not laugh at my world.”
    He reached out and touched her face, strings dropping to the floor. “Laugh?” he said, “only if you do.”
    And then he rose and stood, no longer a marionette. A full grown man of later years, yet nimble in step and bright in eye. She rose with him, the last of her strings falling to ground.
    Outside the squirrels were chasing one another. Outside the earth had opened. Sprouts and shoots rose open handed to the sky. Birds darted and sang as if suddenly in a musical.
    They stepped into each other’s arms and swayed like two old trees. Their joints were stiff from all of those years of stillness. Yet little by little they moved, a tiny slide of the foot, a little step back and then forwards. They assumed dancing position. Their arms crisp and they their eyes ablaze. And then a little lean, and then a little dip, and then a twirl, and smiles broke open, and laughter bloomed as they danced. And as the morning gave way to the day, and as the winter gave way to spring; years of resentment and coldness gave way to the warmth of a touch and a glance; gave way to the promise of newness; gave way to the freedom that only forgiveness can bring.

    1. What a beautiful and touching story! Did you just write it this morning? Thank you for gifting me with it this beautiful spring day. Now I think I’ll go outside and listen to the world singing! Jeanie

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