Under The Sun


What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. 
                                                                                                                                 
Ecclesiastes


I am thinking a lot about the words we think of surrounding this time of year: rebirth, renew, rejuvenate. All the "re's". It's nice to imagine spring as a time when we can kind of wipe the slate clean, start fresh and begin again, but really, when you think about it, spring is more about returning, isn't it? Returning, now in nice weather, to the habits of last year. And the year before that. Many of us have rituals around gardening and our outdoor lives: the grill gets hauled out and placed in the exact same spot it was in last year; the flower containers are filled with the same kind of flowers year after year and placed back in the very same location in the yard, year after year. It's funny, the incredible creatures of habit we humans are.

For me this spring is bringing a tsunami of change. It's coming so quickly some days that my reaction is exhaustion, as if in sleep I might find the strength I need to integrate everything. I am at the beginning stages of the ordination process in the UCC; I'm preparing to return to school to wrap some language around the sense I have about God in our lives; I've been asked to lead worship service at a beautiful community meeting house in southern Vermont this summer and the marketing brass at the nearby hospital are working with me to design a photography and storytelling project with the cancer patients there. It's all so great and so amazing and it seems to make sense that it's happening now, in the fresh and sweet-smelling days of spring, but in truth none of it is really new at all. 

What's happening in my life isn't rebirth or renewal, more like recycling. It feels like all of the old energy from times past is swirling back around and reconfiguring itself into more elegant, if you will, more meaningful ways of doing things. Mostly it feels like all of the wisdom I've accumulated through years of living, sometimes wildly, sometimes quietly, always like the Taurus that I am, is forming itself into some beautiful version of me, and the world, God bless her, is responding by saying Yes...yes, we have been waiting for you to arrive here....welcome home. This wouldn't be happening if I wasn't carrying all of the experiences from the past 48 years in my bones and blood. It wouldn't be happening if I imagined or wished myself to be some new, spring-fresh version of me. 

We can purge and cleanse and smudge the heck out of our lives in the vernal-like hopes of attaining re-something-or-other, but the reality is that we carry in our cells the story of all of the people we have loved, all of the places we have been and all of the adventures we have lived through. None of it is going anywhere, and if we allow ourselves to really marinate in the juices of our existence, we ripen quite nicely with time. We're supposed to mine our experiences for clues about how to live today, and it's not meant to be a process of selective memory expunging, either. If you keep tossing the unpleasant, crappy parts of your life on the burn pile in the hopes it will all turn to dust, you better be ready to live the same stuff over and over again. Think Bill Murray, Groundhog Day. 

So yes, spring is here, and though it feels like everything is fresh and new, it's really not, and that's OK. It's beautiful, actually. The grass is growing up through the ground that has been there for billions of years. The exact same flowers are blooming on the exact same trees as last year, the sun is rising up over the horizon in the same location as it did last May. And you and I -- swirling masses of ancient cosmic juice -- are carrying in us the DNA that is carrying the story of thousands of years of human beings waking up and moving forward into another day.

You might, however, consider putting the planter of petunias in an entirely new spot this year. Just for the heck of it.