In the southern hemisphere it is spring; a time of renewal; a time for change. Spring time used to have both a spiritual and a practical meaning. I am not sure that it does anymore. With the seasons the ‘wrong’ way round down-under, there is no equivalent to the Easter ‘spring’ awakening and the associated festival.
The northern spring festivals are very ancient and predate Christianity by a long way. They have their origins in sun worship and the acknowledgement that a deity or deities are the source of all nature’s bounty. The return of the sun and warmer weather signalled the new growth of plants, the availability of food and the fecundity of Nature.
From a spiritual point of view there was an urgency to cast off the past and adopt the new; a sort of internal renewal. Clean up the mind and let go of old ideas and beliefs and then to vow to not make the same mistakes, nor to continue with old behaviour patterns. And with the notion that ‘cleanliness is next to Godliness’, the custom developed to spring clean ones dwelling; to have a general clean up and to cast out unwanted items, brick-a-brack and the detritus that accumulates over time. Often this junk was burned in a bonfire – burned in the fire of redemption – or something! Bonfires are no longer politically correct, more is the pity – they we good fun. I can remember, as a child, helping my mother clean up and move things. I suppose it was in spring, I didn’t really pay much attention to the season, just the fun of it all.
No one seems to spring clean any more I suppose because we have all become so attached to the various items that we now identify ourselves with what we own. What we own gives us status and a position in the world. To get rid of the ‘stuff’ means that we are diminished by what was discarded. We, in our own eyes, consider ourselves to be reduced and a lesser person through this process. But do we really want to be identified with junk? Aren’t we better than that? Getting rid of stuff also signals change, and today we are scared of change. This is the big unknown. We no longer recall the need for spiritual renewal so we all like to scurry back to our home with all its stuff. This is our security blanket, our comfort. Lose this and we lose ourselves and that is scary!!
This spring cleaning notion came to mind when we decided that we (my wife and I) should sell our house and get something smaller and more suited to our age. Now I am VERY attached to my books and my CDs so getting rid of some of those, and I will have to, is going to be painful. That is not all, I am due to get a new knee joint in November. I am pretty attached to that knee, my left one – it has been with me through thick and thin for longer than I have been on this earth (by about nine months). After some twelve years of increasing pain I am about to experience a great deal of pain for a relatively short period (I hope and trust) with a longer period of recuperation with the pain reducing as I exercise to get the new knee joint back to full working order.
So there is definitely change in the air, and it is spring. In a strange indescribable way I am looking forward to it. Something new and fresh. That is the future, all shiny, new and fresh.