Before Spring cleaning gets underway, things can get pretty messy first! And if we get curious about the muck, we can find glory in it...
After a grueling Winter, our hopeful hearts often anticipate Spring will magically arrive all at once.
We might expect to witness all the snow suddenly disappearing *poof!* to reveal flowers *poof!* already in bloom. We might expect to find ourselves now bathing in sunshine and rainbows, surrounded by cute, clean, fuzzy baby flora and fauna *poof poof poof!*. We might expect a completely refreshed world, with each new day as pure as a cloudless dawn.
We do get to this poofy paradise soon enough. But first we have a few weeks of bathing only in rain and mud, with melted snow revealing only *yuck!* old detritus. Before things get pretty, Spring and it’s miracle of new life – like any birthing process – are downright messy. And therein actually lies some of the season’s deeper beauty and great wisdom. Let’s hike up our boots, embrace that feeling of dirt under our nails, and take a closer look at this mess!
First off, we may notice how uneven this whole Spring thing is. The warmth subsumes scattered patches of snow one at a time. Some patches do indeed disappear suddenly. But others linger on for a while as great silty puddles. Still others, desperate to delay their fate, hide in shady vales, or in the shadowed Northsides of buildings, or under protective blankets of hideous grit.
And so patch by patch is also how we come to see… the detritus. Garbage, dog crap, lost toys and clothes. Suddenly we’re surrounded not by the newly living, but by the presumed dead – zombies everywhere! And all those leaves?! What are those still doing here?!
We might fantasize that throughout the Winter, Autumn leaves are decomposing, out of sight and mind under the snow. But how could they be? They’ve been just as frozen as the ground. So when the snow melts, all that debris is there in the same suspended reanimation it was months ago, perfectly preserved and quite composed!
It’s only now with everything thawed that composting truly begins. And far from a passive process, it’s an active one, even if it is a relatively unseen, unminded one. We should be glad for this inconspicuousness, since the actors in this drama of soil creation aren’t particularly charismatic: detritivores (like worms), decomposers (like fungi), hosts of skittering insects and microscopic decay-devourers.
So. Minefields of grungy patches and puddles and poop. Undead matter emerging. Real-life death-eaters (though nice ones). How can it be a new season if the dead tissue of two seasons ago still litters the landscape? What beauty or wisdom could there possibly be in such ghastly conditions?
Well, we may also notice that many mighty oak trees have clung to their dead leaves all Winter, only releasing them once new growth literally pushes them out. And this new growth does come, does supplant the old. The disintegrating leaves are metabolized into soil, the litter does get cleaned up. The warmth does take the snow.
It’s just that in the meantime, there’s a hanging-on, a kind of unfinished business from seasons past. This is a thread throughout all the early Spring unglamorousness. And this phenomenon in the Natural world is an invitation to look at our own inner worlds.
What are we still hanging onto? What unfinished business remains from seasons past?
Maybe our dead tissue needs a little more metabolizing before new life can fully arrive. Or, maybe we need to just let the new growth fully emerge, and just let ourselves let go of the old, trusting it’ll make its way into the nourishing soil.
Either way, we can remember that both rain and sun play essential roles, not only in rainbow-making, but also alongside the other agents of earth-making: exposure to the elements, the continual wetting and drying, speeds the recycling of matter. Our footsteps themselves help too, as long as we’re careful not to trample new shoots. All the more reasons to brave a refreshing, reflective walk, to go out and bless the blessed mess.
Such Spring cleanings and clearings are what Nature needs before it can become the paradise we long for. And as Nature or any other Mother will tell you – these are the kinds of practices that always precede the glorious mess of birth, and the new world dawning beyond.