“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” (Anaïs Nin)
In ancient Rome the month of March was designated as the first month of the year. It was the time when the cold and wet of winter began to abate. From the sleep of winter’s rest, the stirrings of a new round of growth begin to be felt, seen and smelled. The coverage of snow over the ground gives way to the sight of green earth (though family and friends in New England might question this timing!). Spring, and a new cycle of life, arrive. Unfortunately, for those ancient Romans spring also meant that it was time to begin new battlefield campaigns that were intended after the winter weather’s interlude; hence the name “March” was derived from their god of war, Mars. God’s time of birth was also Man’s time of destruction.
Somewhere along the line, as calendar structures were manipulated, January became seen as the new start of the year. A shame. March has the sense of starting, of beginning fresh, of planting new seeds for growth. March should be the time when we make our new resolutions, setting new intentions and directions, rather than in the middle of winter’s oppressiveness. Winter is our time of rest from our previous efforts; spring is our time to begin a new round of efforts to plant, nurture, grow and harvest.
The seeds we plant can be physical ones, set into the ground, resulting in food for our bodies, visual treats for our eyes, or new tools by which nature continues Her never-ending reproductive cycle. But the seeds can also be the ideas and plans we have for creating new physical structures or conceptual entities. Or perhaps most importantly, we can plant new seeds (i.e. intentional steps) for our own personal growth in spirit, character and wisdom.
It is certainly easier to stay in a kind of spiritual winter, perpetually at rest, in a kind of detached slumber from life and its creativity that calls to us. But living a true spirituality is like everything else in life. It requires intention. It requires planting new seeds for food rather than living off of old, deadened growth that has run its course. It requires the water and fertilizer of outside nourishments in order to grow to fruition. It requires vigilance and protections against destructive elements which will otherwise compete with if not defeat our spiritual crop. If, in spite of all the weather and attacking pests, insects and disease, we somehow manage to grow our spiritual plantings to full maturity, we then need to harvest it. Celebrate it, honor it, and unabashedly feast upon its reward.
Stepping out of the darkness of our winter cave can be scary; the bright glare of spiritual sunlight can be blinding at times. But in the hibernating darkness of the cave we wither, living off our old accumulated fat. In the warm sun we are renewed and live life fresh again, fueled by Purpose and nourished by a knowing Faith.
Happy New Year! What spiritual seeds are each of us planting for this year’s harvest?