Reflection On The Many Meanings of March 1st and Hope

February 28, 2013 - 2:01 pm 24 Comments

Pastoral Reflection: How Nature Reveals Problem-Solving

When I was a child, back in cold damp, New England, there was an expression the Old Yankees would use concerning this day on the calendar, and it went something like this: ” March… comes in like a lion and leaves like a lamb…”

March would be, under normal conditions, the last month of winter weather. If all went well, from the Groundhog’s prediction to The Farmer’s Almanac (I guess they didn’t know about El Nino… Or global warming in those days) they could count on Spring starting sometime in March… .

As it was explained to me, the weather can progress from being fierce to being more gentle, and that this pattern of Nature was capable of happening in a short period of time… one month.

It was a common sight for me, to see snow still piled up at the beginning of March, and it was truly a wondrous and hopeful sight to see, once we past the Ides, that, in a few bare spots, those brave and courageous little crocuses were trying to push their way through the  thawed ground announcing the coming of the long awaited Spring.

This weather phenomenon points to lessons in our apprehension and anticipation- to how we can begin to dread the beginning of a project, a responsibility, or a change in one’s life, and then with greater openness to possibilities, a d a shift in our perceptions, be able to warm up to it and reach its completion with a sense of peace and joy. Like the first of March, our problems and challenges can appear fierce and lion-sized. We can imagine ourselves bracing for the worst, instead of expecting the best from ourselves, our society, our situations in life- we dread, we worry, we are fearful, instead of looking optimistically at our potentials…

Like the stormy chill of the late winter, we can effectively act like wet snow blankets or at least pour down freezing rain on our best efforts. Hope is what renews us. Only as we allow ourselves to emphasize our possibilities and potentials does Spring truly arrive; When Spring is in the air, our willingness to hold fast to our purposes, helps us to endure until the greening of the year, until the color and warmth returns to our lives, and optimism and courage takes its rightful place in our hearts.

From a certain metaphorical perspective, weather is the energetic result of our collective thoughts… and those thoughts, if not directly affecting our world, truly can control the emotional climate of our lives. Based on that outlook, I will confidently predict that it is our reactions and our ability to expect what is good, and rehearse those ideals, versus dreading what might never be, and rehearsing those desperate empty scenes, that could control the warmth we feel and share among us.

Similarly, it could be the “whether or not” patterns in our own thinking that will set the range of temperature in our caring, in our openness that we have toward love and life. If life is currently like March 1st, an old bellowing lion, not happy with his portion and dissatisfied with his lack of attention, take heart… become encouraged… for the peace, warmth, affirmation you seek is not far away. Spring is almost here!

As lion and lamb, may the days of our lives not be spent in worrying whether or not you will receive a fleecing by life, or that you might be devoured by any of life’s challenges and changes. Instead, we can follow nature’s rhythms and give ourselves the gift of time, of patience, acceptance, and a little endurance, and within a few Sundays, your problems can melt, and you, too can bravely bloom with greater optimism and hope for the year… Happy March 1st!

From an upcoming Book, Tilling The Soul, comes this family reflection on March 1st…

One more family reflection:
March 1st carried an interesting little ritual with it… Well, maybe not a ritual so much as a repeated expectation of hearing my grandmother Concetta’s words: “Martza Paze!” This phonetic sound that exclaimed that March was crazy month! It always held the surprise of weather extremes- a few tantalizingly warm Spring days, and the specter of one last looming snow storm… Each year it would be different and unpredictable! She would mutter these words, and sometimes she would declare them with all the emphasis of both exasperation of having to endure another a long winter in New England and the eager expectation of the return of warm weather, going outside, and of course, cooking for Easter, and getting ready for her tomato garden!


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