My Rite of Spring

by Melissa Taft
Heather in Snow 800

by Elaine Breckenridge

The Earth’s elements and seasons are among my favorite spiritual guides. My prayer life, my relationships with friends and family, the rich traditions of both the Church and culture(s) also offer me guidance. Yet, recently, sacred signs of Earth and Spirit are inviting me to discover my own rhythm of how to live authentically.   

It is early spring in the Pacific Northwest. Where I live, winter and spring often overlap. On one day we can have both seasons; donning wool hats and gloves, shorts and sandals. In early spring the landscapes, particularly on the beaches, are chaotic. High winds and king tides cause havoc washing out footbridges and hiding trails with logs washing ashore. 

Forests and gardens are also not quite the same place as they were previously. The land is no longer covered with winter’s comforting cold. Frozen ground is now muddy. The plants are gray and brown and to my eye do not look hopeful at all. Early spring seems to last forever. Winter is not finished and the greening power of God has not yet begun.

For me, the spiritual guidance of spring is an invitation to practice patience and to trust the Creator and the natural cycles of the Earth. I learn that nature is in charge and that she does not operate on the same schedule as our human-made calendars. Spring teaches me to surrender and accept “what is.” And “what is” is constant change and transition.  Everything is pending and nothing is resolved. I confess that I find that challenging! 

Bridge to nowhere800

Early spring coincides with Lent. For me, Lent is the season to nourish my heart, the ground of my being.  This year I had a daily ritual of looking for something beautiful every day; writing it in a beauty journal. Beauty was discovered in surprising and varied places. Some were in nature, but I also found beauty in my prayer, books, as well as in my personal relationships. This practice helped to counter my impatience with dark days, enabling me to live in the present moment. I cherish my journal with its list of forty days of beauty that I continue to appreciate.   

Health challenges were part of my Lenten journey this year. A terrible chest cold kept me away from corporate worship and visiting grandchildren for over two weeks. Despite my beauty list there was one day in particular when I found myself slipping into self-pity and depression. I prayed and hit a wall of silence. 

The sun was out and beckoned me to come outdoors. The wind was wild so I wrapped myself in a blanket and sat in a chair on my deck and tried praying again. I asked the Holy Spirit, who rides on the breath of the wind, to sweep me out and cleanse my body, mind and heart. I addressed Brother Wind and asked for his wisdom and guidance. I was presented with healing images of Mother Mary and changing images of Christ. I was also shown images of water which I interpreted as an invitation to go to the beach. There I practiced a ritual of letting go, by finding and releasing stones back into the water. Love, peace and joy flooded my being. The next morning, I awoke in much better health. There is no question in my mind that God used the elements of wind, water and the Spirit’s love to heal me.   

Five days later I experienced a fall and fractured my elbow and arm. I spent Holy Week in pain and missed the special services. I am still in a sling waiting for healing with the hope of avoiding a surgical intervention. I cannot drive and have learned how to dictate since I cannot type. I continue to pray and wonder what I am to learn from this experience. My world has become very small having only the use of one arm. I miss my field trips to the beach and forests. 

On Easter Day, I was determined to bring nature and a symbol of resurrection into my home. In some Christian churches baptismal fonts are drained and baptisms are not performed during Lent. On the night before Easter Day, at the Vigil, water is the centerpiece of the first celebration of the Easter Eucharist. The font is filled again with an invitation to people to remember their own baptisms and renew their covenant with God and the church.  

On my home altar for this season of Easter, I am keeping a bowl of water there to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, the renewal of the Earth and my own resurrection in the new life of the Spirit. I have a morning and evening ritual when I dip my fingers into the water and make a sign of the cross with my wet fingers on my forehead and say these words, “Remember who you are. You are marked as Christ’s own forever.”  

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My bowl of water not only reminds me of the water of baptism but also of the water of life. My bowl of water is the font of the Christian Church but also the well of life for all people. It is a solemn reminder to me to visit my own well within, daily, that place where the Holy Spirit is always welling up inside all of us, calling us to drink from the living waters. 

As Jesus cried out, “Let everyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me, drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’” (John 7:37,38

They say that April showers bring May flowers. May is just days away and spring seems to have sprung and shaken off the grip of winter.  Blooms and greening finally illustrate the Earth’s season of renewal. The landscape of my wintry heart is continuing to thaw and green. 

My passage through this challenging early spring has been guided by God the Creator, by spring’s unique rhythms and by the elements of wind and water. It continues to prepare me to experience God’s promise of meeting the Risen Christ and to embrace my own personal resurrection.  Alleluia!  

Beneath the tree, purple plum 

leaves pool; beauty’s farewell to

a season well spent.


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