With frail blue wings.
The happy earth looks at the sky
It is no coincidence we celebrate Easter in spring when there are signs of new life all around us. I remember when I was growing up my father’s green thumb ensured that the bulbs he had carefully tended would provide us with multi-colored tulips and bright yellow daffodils for Easter. When I was teaching kindergarten I often incubated eggs in my classroom just before Easter so the children could watch the miracle of baby chicks being born and witness new life first hand.
Recently we’ve had some lovely spring weather here in Manitoba. It has prepared us for a holiday that is a time of new beginnings and new life. I know in Manitoba one of the first of nature’s signs of spring is the crocus. Three years ago I was in Japan in April and there the flower that signals the start of spring is the cherry blossom. I have experienced the beginning of many spring seasons in my life but the beauty of spring in Japan is something extraordinary. Trees are covered in fragrant pink blossoms and provide a stunning backdrop for the arrival of spring. It reminded me of a verse from the Bible. Spring warblers are filling the forest with sweet arpeggios. Lilacs are exuberantly purple and perfumed, and cherry trees are fragrant with blossoms.
Song of Solomon 2: 11-13a- The Message
In Japan, although most people don’t celebrate Easter as a religious holiday, spring is definitely a time of new beginnings and new life, which is why it is the most popular season in that country for weddings. During our visit to Japan we saw many brides and grooms standing under the blooming cherry trees having their pictures taken. They had chosen to begin their new life as husband and wife at the same time as the natural world all around them was bursting with new life.
Although we may mark a time of new beginnings at Easter the message of the season is that new beginnings or a fresh start can happen any time. For every person and family these new beginnings take on different forms.
I know one of the reasons I loved teaching so much was that each September was a time of new beginnings for me. No matter what difficulties the previous school year might have held, after a time of rest during the summer months I was always excited and eager to begin teaching again. I could look forward to a fresh start with a new group of students.
This year we retired and moved home to Canada after spending six years in Hong Kong. It has truly been a year of new beginnings as my husband Dave and I explore the history and culture of our new home in Winnipeg and as we try to figure out what we want to do with our years of retirement.
This Easter our family has new life and new beginnings to look forward to in a special way since our first grandchild will be born in April. There couldn’t be a more promising season than Easter for the beginning of a new generation.
The movie Chocolat tells the story of a beautiful young woman and her daughter who move to a small French village just before Easter and set up a new chocolate shop directly across the street from the church.
The mayor of the village, a very pious man, is appalled that a single mother would want to entice the community’s fine Catholic citizens with so pleasurable a thing as chocolate during Lent– a time of year when they should be denying themselves pleasure.
In an attempt to reconcile the two, the young priest from the village church delivers a Sunday message in which he suggests to his congregation that rather than give something up for Lent they embrace something new. They might befriend a new person or be open-minded enough to accept a new idea.
I wonder if we couldn’t benefit the most by combining the ‘giving up’ and ’embracing something new’ aspects of Lent.
What if we……..
Gave up jealousy and joyfully celebrated the success of others
Gave up holding grudges and forgave those who have wronged us
Gave up worrying about our health and started doing something to improve it
Gave up gossiping and looked for positive things to say about people
Gave up losing our temper so quickly and tried to practice more patience even with the most frustrating people in our lives
Gave up being self-centered and thought about what we could do to help someone else
Gave up expecting the worst and hoped for the best
Gave up wishing our lives could be different or better and took steps to make that happen
Gave up__________ and ___________
This approach could have consequences. Researchers have found it only takes six weeks to establish a new habit. Lent, which lasts for forty days is just about that long. Who knows? If we do give up some negatives and embrace more positive alternatives for Lent we might just change our lives forever.