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Grow deep (04/16/2006)
By Janet Lewis Burns

Here lies another day

During which I have eyes, ears, hands

And the great world ‘round me;

And with tomorrow begins another.

Why am I allowed two?

-G.K. Chesterton

Here in the fertile Midwest, sights, scents, sounds, and textures of the natural world surrounding us might be seen as a battle of the seasons. Outward appearances are flaunted splendidly. Layers of growth - fullness, death, and rebirth - bring ecological cycles full-circle.

Our innate organic souls, gritty with earth and softened by fragrant, heady blossoms, will carry a portion of this paradise along with us on life's walk-about and into a climax of peace, envisioned through nature's powerful serenity and uncharted mysteries.

At this dismal transition - through this in-between season's drab attire - it's not as much about scenery as our dependence upon land and sky. With the blahs of cabin fever, we look toward planting gardens and flowerbeds, and fields ripe for plowing. Longer days draw us from hibernation's grip.

"The best things in life are free!" One doesn't hear that said anymore. Today, March 22nd, as I parked down by the west end of picturesque Lake Winona, I reflected on my morning's visit with Wollins (my two aunts and uncle), and Aunt Ellen's dear friend Kateri from her HCO home.

Life's most cherished endowments came to light. Kateri and Ellen had gathered red dogwood sticks and cottony, cheery spikes of pussy willows into bouquets as gifts for us.

Just now, my van window opened to crisp 44 degree air, a pleasant lady caught me off-guard. With a fetching smile and without verbal fanfare, she handed me a small pamphlet entitled "Would you like to know more about the Bible?"

The booklet was merely the wrapping on the gift. It takes courage to walk up to a stranger, and to witness to beliefs others may not share or understand, to be a beacon for godliness. The rainbow connection...that pot of gold isn't always obvious at first.

Two robins flutter together on an exposed patch of yellowish ground which throbs with a hint of renewed color. Has anyone seen it happen? When is the magic moment of transition? The gift is not the superficial, lush green carpet, well groomed throughout yards and parks. The legacy is the roots beneath...should one dig deeper.

Early spring pussy willows remind us of rebirth unending, that dreary appearances can be deceiving. But the gift most treasured was the kind thought behind the gesture. The apparent bond between Kateri and Ellen filled a lackluster day with joy.

"This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it." - Psalms 118:24

Delving deeper into early rituals of the Easter season, one will find the symbols of the egg and rabbit, in Christian tradition. The rabbit, a sign of fertility, is said to gaze at the moon when it gives birth. Easter's date is still determined by the moon. Continuing tension flares between sacred and secular time.

What's more appropriate than an egg to symbolize new life and the magic of spring! Since the late 19th century, the humble egg has been exploited, a part of inventive commercialism surrounding Lent. "New life" has been misconstrued with new "stuff."

Mardi Gras is what remains of an old custom allowing people to engage in public drunkenness, debauchery, and riotous mischief. Partying is shut down at midnight on the day before Lent begins, called "shrove (confession) Tuesday."

Society's powerful, corporate conglomerations also taint the true meaning of the Easter experience, advertising trendy, gaudy clothing, lavish and cutesy decorations, baby chicks, golden eggs, and champagne breakfasts...all in the name of $.

If one were to venture beyond the materialistic - heartfelt family traditions and Christian symbols of a blessed season would be unearthed, a meditative time-out between winter solstice and spring equinox.

To dig deep is to discover roots entwined and fertile with the promise of resurrection. Grow deep - not shallow.

Janet Burns is a Lewiston native. She can be reached by e-mail at: patandjanburns@earthlink.net 


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