Now is the season of new beginnings. New green shoots pushing up through the mud and remnants of a long winter that for some, still rages on. New hours of sunshine that add a touch of promise to each afternoon (who doesn’t hate driving home from work or anywhere in the dark at 5:30.) New clothes perhaps, with brighter colors and fun patterns.
And depending upon your spiritual beliefs, new beginnings in other ways.
A fresh start. A new day.
And how wonderful that this new beginning comes every year. It can be about so many things….maybe it’s not having that tempting late afternoon snack that’s not helping your cholesterol. Or putting in 5 extra minutes on the treadmill. Or deciding to make a real effort to keep the inside of your car clean (good luck).
In other words, we all might want to start small. Tiny strides, tiny victories that can add up.
And maybe most of all, it can be how we see the world, our neighborhood, our enemies, and ourselves.
Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest in New Mexico and founder of the Center of Action and Contemplation, has written what I think are some wonderful books worth checking out. In Immortal Diamond, he talks about seeking our true self—our soul—and letting the false self die. The false self being what we rely on in the beginning of our lives to get us through the formation of personality, career, relationships, etc…sort of like the games we have to play to get where we are. But now that we are “here”, we can fall back to what we truly are.
Our essence. Our link to the divine which has always been there.
There are many powerful passages in this book, but I especially like his advice for changing how we deal with negativism….our irritations with life. How many times I’ve been cut off in traffic and uttered language I’m not proud of, or had angry thoughts about the person next to me in the express line holding 56 items instead of 5, or any other of the countless daily situations that try my patience and usually win over my feeble attempt to be a better person. Richard Rohr has a suggestion for how to handle these moments….(from “Immortal Diamond”)….
“Next time a resentment, negativity or irritation comes into your mind…and you want to play it out or attach to it, move that thought or person literally into your heart space because such commentaries are almost entirely lodged in your head. There, surround it with silence (which is much easier to do in the heart). There, it is surrounded with blood, which will often feel warm like coals. in this place, it is almost impossible to comment, judge, create story lines, or remain antagonistic. You are in a place that does not create or feed on contraries but is the natural organ of life, embodiment, and love. Love lives and thrives in the heart space…it can make the difference between being happy and being miserable and negative.”
And who couldn’t use that? A relief valve that stops the wheel of anger right in its place, that takes the negative and wraps it in love, shuts our mouth and mind, and just sits. I sure can.
Richard Rohr calls it our “sacred heart”…where we hold things that need love and not judgment. I think the trick is to do it immediately, when the negative voice in your head starts. Turn off that valve and see the person or irritation moving to your heart.
It’s just a suggestion. But it might just be a wonderful way to mark what for many, is the season of hope…when seeds start to grow. And most happily, when those surprise crocus or tulips spring up and you don’t know how…you can’t remember planting them…but you are so glad they are there.
Maybe we can plant a few of our own right now.