My husband and I just bought our first house. We closed on February 19, 2010. All the trees on the lot, except for a lone pine, were without leaves. They could have all been dead for all I knew. I've never paid any attention to trees, but since that they were mine, I had a sudden interest in knowing everything about them - what type, how old and most importantly, were they alive?
Every day I would examine the stems for signs of life. I was thrilled and relieved when leaf buds began to appear. I worried over those that seemed lifeless. I was ecstatic when one, then two, then six began to bloom. I would lie on the ground and gaze up at the branches as I watched the skeletal branches transform themselves.
For the first time I felt like I understood why myths involving rebirth or resurrection have such widespread appeal this time of the year. All around us life is springing from that which is seemingly devoid of life. After watching the rebirth of trees all around us, is it such a stretch to wonder if we, too, could be reborn, at least in a metaphorical sense?
I started to clear the flower beds of dead leaves and found infant ferns just beginning to unfurl. I sowed seeds and waited anxiously for them to sprout. I bought seedlings from the Sunshine Gardens plant sale and planted an herb garden.
I've always been fascinated by rebirth mythology - my youngest daughter's middle name is Phoenix - but working in the garden made me feel connected to the birth/life/death/rebirth cycle in a way I haven't felt since I was pregnant. But when I was pregnant, I think I was too involved, too close to the matter, to stand back and experience the miracle with true awe.
I've culled the dead branches from trees. I've pruned the dead wood from the rose bushes. I've cleared away the dead matter that did not survive the winter. I've cleared way for new life to flourish and expand.
I was going to write about how I intend to cull, prune and clear the dead and useless from my life, but instead, I'm just going to end this with one of my favorite meditations. I think it's a great way to sit in awe with the cycle of birth-life-death-rebirth. Sa Ta Na Ma. Try it.