As I get older I have noticed a changing of a myriad of personal views, opinions, beliefs, thoughts, hopes, and dreams that I thought were concretely in the category of “resolute beliefs. For example, in high school I was voted “Most Dramatic” during my senior year for the yearbook’s senior superlatives.
Based on the picture I should have been given the superlative “Most likely to wear a T-Shirt that is 3 sizes too big, but I guess they skipped that one my senior year. Today my involvement in drama has changed: I still have a flair for dramatics – it makes life more interesting – but the idea of being involved in negative drama is just not interesting to me in the slightest. Negative drama makes that pit we all have in our stomachs seems like a black hole of misery if I am involved. Without the experiences in my life that led me up to this point, I could still be that dramatic high school kid. Thankfully, I am not.
At least I think I am not….
Whatever! I am a work in progress, get over it. Go throw stones at your own house or whatever that stupid expression is.
One of the things that is constantly changing in my head is my view on the universe and the all-encompassing connectivity of everything. Although I want to punch those little creepy anamatronic-robots on the Disney World ride in the face because that song is so obnoxious, I think it speaks directly to this. Our world is a small place in the grand design. Whether you choose to believe there is an omnipotent being somewhere who knows what she is doing (religious), choose to believe in science, choose to believe in the magic eight ball, or even the flying spaghetti monster, most of us will admit that throughout life each of us has those moments where we feel something would happen no matter what previous experiences or decisions we faced. Call it your gut, intuition, karma, or juju (my preferred term for it). We all know it and have experienced it.
One way that I have continued to be shocked by this juju is in church. I have only ever regularly gone to two churches in my life. I have been a lifetime member of one, and the other I attended while I was at Clemson. Although I have not gone to either of those churches as regularly lately as I should or would have liked to, one thing that shocks me every time I go to church (no matter if it is one of those two churches or a different one I am visiting) after a long absence is just how directly the message relates to my life at that moment. It is almost like the church is speaking directly to me. I can feel it acknowledging the burdens I am bringing with me and offering up a song, a sermon, or a reading as if to say “Here. I know you are upset. I hope this helps.”
It has happened numerous times in my life; often it usually occurs around a stressful time or event that I am busy stewing over. It happened yesterday, but the most recent memorable time before that would have been on Wednesday November 9, 2016. I was stunned and still shell-shocked by the results of the election; in an effort to not lose hope I made the decision to go to my church’s Wednesday evening prayer service. The positive juju I received that evening was so perfect for what I needed that I do not even have a word for how similar it was I wanted to hear. Before the service started, my pastor came over and she hugged me and we talked for a few moments. I will keep what said to myself, and she will never know how much that meant to me in that moment – and it was exactly what I needed in that moment. During the service I was able to pray and put my doubt and sadness aside. I left feeling rejuvenated. When I got home, I got online and had a second church service reading Pastor John Pavlovitz’s Stuff that Needs to be Said blog post about the election. Titled “Here is Why we Grieve Today” it summed up my feelings and gave me a sense of peace.
This past Sunday gave me those same feelings once again. Having chosen sleep over salvation for the past several Sundays I had a lot on my plate and donned a cute Easter outfit and went to church. I was late to church, and not in the best mood, this time of year is busy – being a teacher and trying to make it to Spring Break, worrying about doing my taxes, the health of a friend, and stressing over my life had me all in knots. Once again, the message felt like it was directed towards me. During the sermon every issue I was worrying about was directly address and I was given an answer (This is where Hermione Granger would raise her hand and shout “Jesus!” if we were at Hogwarts). We sang Now All the Vault of Heaven Resounds, one of my favorite hymns. I spent the day enjoying brunch with family. I went outside barefoot and threw the ball in the yard for Humphrey. I binge-watched Netflix. The universe once again told me to relax.
Upon reflection, yesterday reminded me so much of why I love Easter and why I love Spring. Just like Easter, Spring is a period of rebirth. Everything is renewed – from fresh leaves and blooms on trees and flowers to teachers and students feeling rested over their much-anticipated Spring Breaks. Even the much dreaded Spring Cleaning that some of us do is a time for us to unclutter ourselves of things we no longer need and give us much-needed space, openness, and organization.
For those of us who are Christian, there is a reason Easter and Spring go hand in hand. For those who are not Christian, Spring is still an important time of year – whether you are religious or not. Many other religions have important days in spring. In the Jewish faith Passover is often aligned with Easter in terms of date. Holi is an important religious festival celebrated by Hindus and other Indians around the world. Even the Chinese New Year typically falls in the early days of Spring. Many secular events and festivals bring in the Springtime. The National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C. is a great example.
Instead of doing Spring Cleaning in the literal sense (not being able to afford housing has one perk I guess), I plan on doing some spring cleaning in the figurative sense. I make no promises that I will be successful, but I am going to work on embracing the five things that I think Spring is.
- Spring is Hope→ for me, my future, and my journey in life.
- Spring is a Renewal→ of mind, body, and attitude.
- Spring is a Rebirth→ of positive thoughts, and the literal world around us.
- Spring is a Forgiveness→ of anger, despair, and loss.
- Spring is a Promise→ of the resurrection, of something more, and of seeing my Papa again.
My Springtime prayer is that I accomplish embracing these things. If I am successful, this Spring and all the Springs that I am lucky enough to experience in the future will be just as magical as I imagine them to be. If I am not successful that too will be ok – because I will have Spring 2019 to look forward to. And I can start the Springtime renewal all over again.
Happy Easter and Happy Spring my friends. May yours be as hopeful for you as I am for mine.