Back in November I was given a bougainvillea plant. For a while, it lived in our sunroom, but did not seem happy. Recently, we moved it to the studio where it seems to be thriving, sending along branches and new leaves.
In the forest, the tree buds are thickening, giving the woodlands a more dense feel. Sap is beginning to rise in the maples. Underneath the snow the bulbs are awakening. A scattering of robins have returned. For the past few years, a few robins have overwintered. This year, with our deep snow, sightings have been few. Slowly, deep winter gives way to spring. The first sap runs are imminent. The crocuses are buried beneath a couple of feet of snow, waiting.
One of my teachers used to respond to my periodic bouts of despair, at the state of the world, with a reminder that nature always recovers. “It’s all cycles, only sometimes the cycle is long, taking many generations. Our yearly cycle here, in the North, is the cycle of everything, just on a smaller scale. I know how hard the cold is on your body. Sometimes you wanna move to Florida. Only there, the heat and humidity of the summer hurt you. Sometimes things are just plain hard. Just be patient, everything will change.”
Of course, we must take care of ourselves while we wait. Often we are called to speak our truths in the face of short sightedness, or even evil. Sometimes we must hide; occasionally, we must flee. Each of these acts requires courage, disciple, and self-forgiveness. Seldom do we know for sure which is the right action.
Butterfly 4am recently found herself in such a place.
I stood nervously at the ticket counter, my eyes scanning the crowd. My two sons, age four and seven, stood quietly and my three month old slept peacefully in my arms, for they didn’t understand the seriousness of this moment. As I watched them, their eyes so innocent, thoughts of the future filled my mind. Even though my life was in danger, leaving their father –my husband–was the only thing left to do. I was concerned with the effects this was going to have on my three sons, but I also felt relief that we were getting out of the hell that we lived in the last few years.
There is an innate wisdom within each of us. Some part knows when we absolutely must leave, that our very emotional, spiritual, and/or physical survival depends on it. Maybe that knowledge has sat for a while, awaiting our attention, and the right moment for expression. We may not know, with certainty, the rightness of our action; we may not know for a long time. We just act on that deep knowing and hope, often against hope, for the best.
Butterfly, people seeking social justice and democracy in the Middle East or Wisconsin, and people everywhere who stand up to internal or external oppression, are each risking everything for the hope of renewal. Each trusts the upwelling within. Each knows the outcome is uncertain and fraught with danger. In this way, we are simply living beings meeting the call of Life, and hoping Spring will arrive in time for us. Our thoughts are with them. May all be well.