Signs of Spring
The grandfathers waited. So did the grandmothers, and the fathers and mothers, and the young men and women, and the children – the little boys and the little girls. They all waited.
Then Teller-of-stories began to speak…
“Sometimes in life”, he said, “sometimes people feel old, even when they are not. Even a child, who has had a bad shock, an injury or the death of a pet, or the loss of a favorite toy, even a child will for a time feel old. Tired. Worn down by life.
“There is nothing unusual here.
“It is like breathing. It is part of the whole. A natural pause, a small moment of Winter.
“Even so, this does not mean there is no danger. People die easier in Winter. Illness is stronger in Winter. When we feel the deep mood “old”, life does not hold us as tightly as it usually does.
“Today, we are all worried, as we have every right to be. For today, the whole people feel old, worn down. We, as a people, as a civilization, are in Winter. For a long time there has been no Sun; and our leaders give us little light or illumination with which to push away the shadows and the cold.
“Many are, because of this, tired unto death. So we hide, wrapped up in ourselves. We feel we have nothing to give. All our energies are spent, exhausted, in merely trying to survive.
“When this is so, when our civilization – our culture – is worn out, what do we do?
“This is not an easy question to answer It is not ours to make Winter go away. The seasons, the rhythmical movements in the lives of peoples and civilizations, have their own Time.
“When clouds hide the sun, who among us would claim to be able to make the Sun shine. Winter gives way to Spring when it is time, not when we wish it.
“So we are back to the question. What do we do?
“There is an answer to this. But it is an answer with two parts, because it is not only what do we do, but what, as well, do we not do?
“Now if your child is hurt do you kick it? If it has no hope do you give it more worries? If it has no faith do you feed it doubts? And, if it is lacking love do you give it hate?
“So our civilization is in Winter, and our people move through shadows and cold. Do we want to paint with only dark colors the world of words which we share with each other? I think we do not. I believe we do not what to do this.
“Yet, to not do this is difficult, very difficult. Why is this true? Why is it difficult?
“One real obvious reason is, that it is no help whatsoever to lie, to pretend it is not Winter. There is darkness and cold, worry, doubt and callus indifference.
“Homelessness is real. Greed is real. Racism is real. Violence is real. Abuse of women and children is real. Pollution is real. Evil is real.
“Lies are not real. To lie is real, but what the lie is about is not real!
“Half truths are not real either.
“To the extent that politicians, corporate leaders, media personalities, scientists, the religious, gossips, or anyone else lies or tells half truths, they create shadows where there is no true darkness.
“The result is that, while we live in Winter, many of our leaders pollute the communal world of words and ideas and dreams, in which we all live, with empty ghosts and deceptive shadows that leave fear and mistrust and doubt and hopelessness behind.
“”We need hot tea and company, while they give us cold and bitter thoughts instead..
“This is all I know to say about what not to do.
“What to do is different and no less hard.
“In Winter it makes sense not to make things colder or darker, but when Spring has not yet arrived, when the stark reality of unchained evil seems to assault our souls daily, how do we find balance while we wait for the changes that are certain to come in spite of our doubts?
“We tell stories. Yes! We tell stories.
“We come together, we share a meal and we tell stories.
“Oddly enough, it is just here that we first sense Spring. When a people, when a civilization begins to renew itself, to find the forces of resurrection, after living through the death forces of Autumn and the waiting that is Winter, when this happens, stories appear.
“Winter is already the time of stories. Stories of remembrance. Stories of the past which bind the people and make them whole. These are crucial and we have these today. We remember when it was better and not so dark and cold.
“But how do we tell stories of the future, stories of the true yet-to-be. These stories have been missing. These are harder to tell. Those who would tell these stories, they must first confront the Mystery. For the future is born out of the Mystery.
“The remembered past dies into the present. Autumn gives way to Winter. But Spring is not a continuation of the movement which is the dying into rest that is the fall into Winter. Spring is not born of rest.
“Spring is New. What becomes the New is hidden in Winter. Winter is its absence.
“So to seek the stories of the New, of the future, the stories of Spring, is to go into the Mystery.
“There is no other way of it. That which is to become is born in the Mystery and those who want to tell of it must go and find it there.
“This is not easy.
“In life we are accomplished. We are often fathers and mothers and holders of professions and status. But to go in to the Mystery means to surrender these things.
“The Mystery is more Real than the real, and before it we become again little children.
“Only empty can we be filled. Only ignorant can we learn. Only silent can we hear the songs of the Mystery.
“When Winter ends what is the first sign? The song birds return. Even before the snow melts, trees bud or days lengthen, the song birds return and express their joy at life.
“So come the story tellers, the singers of Mystery.
“In the beginning just a few. Here and there. The people waiting, perhaps napping as a way of passing through the long pull of Winter, then hear something new, something different.
“The old stories, the stories of remembrance, the songs of the birds who stayed throughout Winter, these continue still.
“Not all the past is meant to die. The snow covers the ground, but seeds lay there warm all Winter long under their pure white blanket. Seeds of the past remembered, waiting to be awakened and to bloom anew in the Spring.
“But the Mystery also gives forth the New.
“And, when it is a civilization, a people, that is to be renewed, what has truly died is reshaped, given new forms, new names, new meanings and new purposes.
“Think deeply on this, for here is a great secret from out of the Mystery. Homelessness, racism, greed, abuse, evil, these names refer to the real but not to the Real. They are not the true names, but are instead the half lies, the confusions of the long Winter just passing.
“You think not?
“Consider this fact, a most recent melody in the World Song. When a certain people awoke recently from their Winter’s nap, they threw off the names “Negro” and “colored” and gave their own name to themselves: “Black!” And, intended, not just a new word, but a new meaning as well.
“Lead by a great story teller, a man who touched the Mystery and who was Touched by the Mystery, this people sang a true Song of Spring and dreamt the Great Dream of human freedom and dignity.
“So has come already a Sign of Spring, if one has the wisdom to see it.
“But a people, a civilization, is a complicated symphony in the World Song. There are many stories to tell and many songs yet to sing.
“So I say to you with all my heart. Do not despair, or be any longer frightened at shadows. Listen carefully instead.
The Mystery comes, carrying just that hoped for Spring which our long Winter’s wait has foretold. Have you heard it yet? Others have. What do you think the environmental movement and civil society are about?
Let me end these words, with these most beautiful thoughts from the English rock group the Moody Blues:
“When the white eagle of the North is flying overhead,
The browns, reds, and golds of Autumn lie in the gutter, dead.
Remember then, that summer birds with wings of fire flaying
Came to witness spring’s new hope, born of leaves decaying.
Just as new life will come from death, love will come at leisure.
Love of love, love of life and giving without measure
Gives in return a wondrous yearn of a promise almost seen.
Live hand-in-hand and together we’ll stand on the threshold of a dream.”