Though the mountains are dusted with new snow and I wear my winter wool hat while biking, the calendar says Spring has arrived and the returning birds and sprouting wild onion flowers agree. I heard them and I saw them while biking along the Salzach River yesterday and I realized how silent the winter world had been and black and white and grey. Now the song in my heart was also coming from the tops of trees and the forest floor was dotted with small purple and white flowers. Lovely.
My Iranian friends celebrated No Rooz yesterday, the Persian New Year so poetically aligned with Spring, the time of renewed vows and hope and gratitude. Their table is covered with ceremonial items symbolizing rebirth, beauty and health, wisdom and patience, affluence, the sunrise and love. They jumped over fire (I did this two years ago myself) and welcomed Spring in other ritual ways. In our modern world of cold machines that know neither winter’s silence, spring’s renewal, summer’s heat or fall’s color (except on screensavers), it’s a good idea to remind nature that we’re paying attention.
Spring in San Francisco is a quiet affair, mostly announced by the magnolia blooms in January, plum’s in February and cherry’s in March. No big contrast with our mild winter, no sense of relief from the bitter cold and dark, dark days. But still it’s there in our ancient cellular memory, alongside a renewed interest in fertility-related desires. And a reminder from the natural world to not lose faith, that the bloom is patiently waiting in the bare branch to burst forth in glorious color.
Yesterday, I played some musical examples from our school CD’s for my students here at the Orff Institut. We heard 8th grader Shane singing “Dance Me to the End of Love” and as I tried to tell them Shane’s story, my voice started cracking and tears came to my eyes. Cellular memory again as I described giving Shane’s graduation speech that began, “Shane was one of the most difficult students I ever had.” In both the speech and the story, I related how Shane seemed constantly against the grain of the music class from three-years old to eleven until he got interested on his own in alternative rock and suddenly came alive in the music classes as well. At the end of the speech, with Shane at my side in front of some 300 parents and kids, I said something like: “We danced together clumsily for 9 years, stepping on each other’s feet, but at the end of the dance was love. (see song title above). You taught me never to give up on a student, that with sufficient faith, patience, the constant light of the sun and the daily watering in the class, the bloom will come to the branch.” As indeed it did.
My Persian friends are waiting patiently for the light to return to their country’s government (as are we all for our own!), my music teacher friends waiting for the testing madness to run its course and arts come to blossom in schools, we all know friends or family or parts of ourself that are frozen cold and need thawing, desparate for more bird song and flower bloom. Spring has arrived to remind us that all is decay and renewal, that the bare branch lies inside the bloom and the bloom inside the bare branch.
Time, light, warmth and water are all that's needed to make miracles. Happy Spring!