Of all the divisions of the year, this is the one that is the least flashy – no hot sun and burgeoning vegetation, no blazing shades of Autumn color on the trees, no Christmas carols or groaning boards – just an impudent crocus pushing up through the snow. But of all the seasons spring is the clearest signifier of the miraculous fact that life goes on. The actual date of the equinox (March 21st) often slips by unnoticed since the weather rarely gives any clues that warmer days are on the way, but that crocus is a compact between nature and humanity and a cause for celebration.
Here at Revels we celebrate by singing together – a simple, effective and socially acceptable way to access your inner joy without the embarrassment associated with doing cartwheels in the street. For our annual Christmas Revels celebration we invest in a great deal of infrastructure to achieve that joy – theatre, lights, set, costumes, choruses etc. but for Spring Sing our major coup de théatre (if we time it right) is simply a glorious flowering of forsythia that we cut a few weeks ago. Believe me, it lifts the spirits.
Not to overstate it, but that subliminal lightening and lifting of the spirits may well be part and parcel of the intricate relationship we humans have with the ball of earth from which we originated. There is joy to be had despite the fact that our connections with the cycles of the natural world have been occluded by technology and that summer and winter can now be optional for a portion of the world’s population. Perhaps a realignment of our inner lives to our outer lives on a quarterly basis is not a bad idea. So on this Vernal Equinox here is some advice from a 15th century Franciscan monk who knew a thing or two:
“I salute you! There is nothing I can give you which you have not; but there is much, that, while I cannot give, you can take.
No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today.
No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present instant.
The gloom of the world is but a shadow; behind it, yet, within our reach, is joy.
And so . . . I greet you, with the prayer that for you, now and forever, the day breaks and the shadows flee away.”
(Fra Giovanni, letter to a friend 1513)