In many religions, this is a time when people pledge a commitment to deepen their relationship with their god, their family and their community. They seek inner peace through these rituals. The rights of spring, throughout history, have embedded within them the origins of all life. How we interpret this time of beginning and renewal is different for each person—depending on his or her own beginnings. We know how our parents can profoundly influence “our start’ in life—and in turn how their parents influenced them. How they interact with us, what and how they teach us, and how they interact with our own searching process determines, to a great extent, how we feel about and process this season of renewal.
For me, I was fortunate to have been raised by two lovely human beings who not only had a strong commitment to their faith, they also had the wisdom to know that there is nothing to be gained from wasting energy trying to force a person to become something they were not. Having said this, it was not easy for them to “let go.” My adventurousness and rebellious teen years were very trying I am sure. I was not an easy kid to raise. My parents were very young when I was born (mom was 20 and dad was 21.) They had just spent a few years separated by World War II. Mom was 17 when they married and dad went off to war. I can only imagine the impact of this beginning to their marriage. I doubt very much I would have survived this.
My parents were, like all of us, of their time. They worked hard, believed in God and the rightness of their own Baptist religion. I am glad they had this as a refuge and a place for centering their lives. They are now resting in peace—although I have no idea “where” they are resting. It was a meaningful anchor to their long marriage. It served them well in times of stress. It provided a strong community. All of these are important elements of continuity.
For me, this upbringing was important. I too had a community. I was well grounded in the teachings of the bible—having read through the King James version twice before I was 16. At one point I even thought I wanted to be a minister. I was very much “into” religion. At about the time my hormones starting kicking in, my mind started working to be in sync with the physicality of reaching adulthood. It was a classic struggle. I was blest to have had great teachers; a gift for drawing and building things; a good “eye”; and a keen interest in reading (especially philosophy books and non-fiction.)
Early on, one of the most important philosophers I read was George Santayana. His book “Life of Reason” resonated with me in a deep way. He was born in Avila, Spain in 1863 and died in Rome in his eighty-ninth year. The book was, as described in my 1953 copy: “The Life of Reason is a consideration of the attempts of mankind, as revealed in society, art, religion and science, to live a rational life, a life experienced as a harmonious realization of ideals. The work is, therefore, in one sense, philosophical history, an account of these various attempts, together with a critical estimate of their worth.”
From his writings, I learned that humans, incorrectly, imagine that fellow-creatures share our own thoughts and passions. That we are similarly affected by events. Philosophers have for centuries tried to unravel this idea of a common ground. I learned “…by Nature’s kindly disposition most questions which is beyond a man’s power to answer do not occur to him at all.”
In this time of renewal what does renewal mean to me? It means that I first acknowledge that I am of both a material and ghostly (or, if you will, spirit) world. These two worlds are intertwined and inseparable. If I am to renew I must first acknowledge what I am and what I am becoming. These two worlds expand independently and concurrently. Living in one without the other is to deny renewal. What we read in one line of poetry one day will change the next day by understanding that these two worlds are pushing and pulling ourselves to become—to renew on a daily basis. By being aware that I am not staying the same each day and that it is not my place convince others to become what I am becoming, I can renew in peace.