First published in The Huffington Post
Amidst headlines of terrorists and other news of a global darkness, a quiet miracle is once again taking place. While blizzards batter the North East, spring comes here in Northern California—that magical moment when buds break open, when bulbs become shoots that become flowers, and color and fragrance return to a world made grey by winter. Trees blossom, magnolias flower purple and white. One can sense the pulse of the earth, and cannot help but feel the joy of life reawakening. Nature beckons us to be present at this moment when life begins again.
In the Christian story the moment of rebirth will come two months later, when in the miracle of the empty tomb Mary mistakes the risen Christ for a gardener, until he says those poignant words, "Woman why weepest thou?" This resurrection takes place every year at Easter, but it is not just a cyclical happening. Christ's transformation symbolizes the mysterious moment when the eternal and temporal meet, when the Divine and human merge together. This is the transformation that can happen to each of us, when we reconnect and live the eternal dimension of our own soul, when we reawaken. Like the joy in springtime, it is always a miracle. And it is the deepest promise of being human.
The stories of the soul are all around us, how from the darkness life returns. It is simple and magical, nourishing us with the mystery of what it really means to be alive, to be awake. In today's world dominated by the rational mind, by the apparent wonders of technology and science, we often forget this more primal wonder. We overlook our need for real magic. Without knowing it we do not welcome spring, we are not there at the empty tomb. Often as a culture we do not even recognize the lack of color in our lives, the lack of the soul's fragrance.
And as our world spins out of balance, becoming more and more divisive, there is the danger that we will remain in the darkening world of winter without even realizing it. Caught in our culture's dreams of materialism, we do not notice the magic we are missing. Just as we are destroying the fragile beauty of the outer world, so we are losing its inner mystery. But even if we do not feel the grief, we are all part of this global story of ecological devastation, of species that will never again be reborn in the spring, the trees whose sap will never again flow.
Where can we find the magic we need to free ourself from this self-destructive spell of consumerism, this soul-destroying pursuit of distractions? Magic is always present, just as the Divine is always present. It is there in the leaf opening, in the beating of the hummingbird's wings. It is in the garden sparrows that everyday crowd around the bird feeder outside my window—such an ordinary miracle that I love it all the more. It is in the moment when the Divine unveils Itself and whispers or at times shouts to us. Sometimes, like for Mary, it becomes visible in our moment of grief, when the tears fall and our heart aches.
Sadly we only talk to ourselves. We no longer listen to the Earth or to life itself. As Thomas Berry says, "We have broken the great conversation." But if we have courage and humility, if we kneel down close to the earth, we may hear how our whole world is crying, calling to those who are awake enough to hear it, strong enough to bear its grief. It is calling for us to work together, to bring the light of our own divinity, our compassion and caring, into the marketplace of life, to counter the pull of greed and exploitation.
More than any ideas of solving our problems or planning for the future, we need the power of magic—the ancient magic of the Earth, of its soul as well as its soil. And we need the miracle of love that is within our heart. Together we may be able to break this spell that is making a wasteland of our world. In cooperation with the Earth and all of its inhabitants we can weave the threads of a new story, which is also an old story. It is the most ancient story of the Earth and also the story of our own soul: the story of life regenerating itself, being born anew.