With the new season comes a time for renewal

April 6, 2013 

It’s time to start getting our hands dirty.

With the arrival of spring, nature is waking up.

Flowers burst forth from buried bulbs, buds poke out of the tips of tree branches and the temperature is creeping up.

It is time to prepare garden beds, start some seeds and do some early planting.

I can’t say I have much of a green thumb, though I did have some success with a vegetable garden last year.

I hope to do some more, and better, planting this year. But what I am successful at is having the amazement that comes from seeing the rebirth of nature and how even beyond our actions, nature has a way of bursting forth and renewing itself. I see this in the return of perennials I planted a few years ago. I barely tend to them, but there they are, making a repeat appearance yet again looking as healthful and vibrant as ever.

I also see it in my chickens.

Like many in our area, I have taken on the hobby of urban chicken-keeping, and I have two hens to my name. (It used to be three but one flew the coop – or was taken …). While I always knew eggs came from chickens, I didn’t know the rhythm and cycle of egg-laying until I had birds of my own.

I have learned that chickens need a certain amount of sunlight to lay eggs, and when the short winter days come, it is natural for hens to stop laying eggs.

The first year I had my birds, I tried to trick them by putting a light in the coop. It worked for a while, until the lamp started falling down, and it got to be more trouble than it was worth.

Now, I am perfectly willing to give up some eggs to witness this cycle of egg laying. My birds just began laying again.

It is no surprise that the egg is a powerful symbol of these springtime festivals.

I just celebrated Passover, and the egg is a featured symbol at the Seder, the ritual meal that marks this holiday that commemorates the story of the Exodus as told in the Torah.

We know eggs are a featured symbol for Easter, as well.

Eggs represent new life, new possibilities. The story of Passover is one of new possibilities – of a once enslaved people given the chance at a new life and new freedom.

When we celebrate Passover, we are not only looking back at past events. Rather, we are reading in past events a paradigm for a vision of the future – a time when all who are oppressed will be free, when all who are stuck will be liberated, when all who find themselves in the narrow places will be brought out into the expanse.

Passover is a time of bursting out, of clinging to life, of hope.

Throughout the dormant winter, the potential for all that is new is held in the soil, the roots of trees and in the bodies of chickens. And as it is with nature, so it is with us.

We always carry within us the potential to be renewed, to grow and change, to liberate ourselves from what confines us.

That is what we are called upon to do this season.

As we prepare to tend to our gardens, we also must make the commitment to tend to ourselves.

At the Passover Seder, we not only retell the story but we relive it by eating symbolic foods and acting out parts of the story.

We are not telling a story of our ancestors, we are telling a story of ourselves. We seek liberation from what oppresses us.

We seek freedom from our own spiritual slavery. To affect this type of change is not easy work. It requires a lot of effort on our part.

As I said, it’s time to get our hands dirty.

Rabbi Seth Goldstein joined Temple Beth Hatfiloh in Olympia in 2003. Perspective is coordinated by Interfaith Works in cooperation with The Olympian. The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by Interfaith Works or The Olympian.

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