“Nor would the stress
Of life be bearable for tender things
Did not so long a respite come between
The cold and heat, and heaven’s indulgence grant
This comfort to the world.”
“Remember the time has come to plow again.”
Hesiod, Works and Days
Isn’t it interesting how on a fine spring day it’s as though there is nothing else to talk about?
We all feel it deep in our gut. The sunshine and the warmth are actually calling out to us. They cut through whatever else we are doing and speak of something primordial. Such a call is actually full of meaning and power; it can even unnerve us, setting us off balance and making us restless—as though there is something we are supposed to be doing.
If we have ears to hear, what is spring saying to us as it shakes our innards?
Perhaps first of all it is calling us to reconnect—with some deep all-encompassing power that is hard to name, yet is clearly at work all around, as well as within us. The bursting of green and of budding things seems to say it is time really to live, again. It is time to participate in life that transcends but includes our own.
We feel that we need to do something or somehow we will be left behind.
Virgil speaks of spring as a comfort and a respite for tender things. But of course as a respite it is precisely a time to act, to come alive again, unhindered by cold or oppressive heat. And so Hesiod speaks of spring as a time of ‘plowing’—a life-giving and rejuvenating work, the very cultivation of life.
If we are in a position to put a spade in the ground, to cultivate the earth and its plants or animals in even some small way, this will, I think, be an especially powerful step towards uniting ourselves to the mysterious and generous intentions of ‘nature’ at work this spring. In the face of so much that disconnects us from the earth, and from ourselves, our spade can be a kind of lightning rod of connection.
…a connection to a call to a more human life, one that is both of the earth, and wonderfully transcends it.
Virgil (70-19 B.C.) is the great Roman poet, author of The Aeneid and The Georgics. In the Divine Comedy he appears as Dante’s guide through hell and purgatory.
Hesiod (8th century B.C.) was a Greek contemporary of Homer, and likewise an epic poet. His Works and Days sketches the year-round work on a homestead.
Image: the wonderful blossoms of that wonderful fruit: the apple.
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