Spring clean your mind

As the August chills begin to fade, color and music land on the winter palette as bright shots of blossom, bunches of wattle, tiny green buds and early morning birdsong hint that spring is in the air!

As my four children grew up a small competition arose between them:  who would bring home to Mum the first sprigs of spring from the trees on the nature strip!  They haven’t been doing it in recent years – too busy raising their own families! So Don has taken over the task and there it sits before me as I write this, now wilting gently in the vase, but offering the promise of sunshine and the prospect of a warm summer with long days and balmy nights.

In Helsinki earlier this year we experienced for the first time a taste of the ‘land of the midnight sun’.  How unusual to be outdoors ‘til then and beyond in broad daylight!  And then a scant few hours of darkness until dawn at 4 a.m. heralding a bright day ahead.

But in that part of the world extensive daylight and its accompanying warmth is extremely short-lived … 3 months at most with the remainder of the year dark and cold.  No wonder those three months are regarded as a precious time and cause to commence celebrations.

We happened to be in Riga, Latvia, in June at Midsummer weekend.  The sense of happiness was palpable and marked by music, dancing, festivity, flowers and general merriment on that whole holiday triad.  Seasonal food in abundance – especially berries – with lots of wine of course and a range of taste tempting delights filling every space in the markets.  It was impossible not to engage in the fervent clamor and appreciation of light!

We are so fortunate in Australia, usually taking for granted the natural gifts that others prize.  Though it makes for a great holiday, we don’t even have to migrate to Queensland to know green and color and sunlight and blue skies … and to shed our winter gear, and replace it with lightness and ease; whereas in Eastern Europe these are luxuries worthy of festivity.

But though in our lucky country we don’t celebrate spring, still the season brings with it the urge to change.  We ‘spring-clean’ the cupboards, air the soft furnishings, turn down the heating and open the windows to let the fresh air fill the home.

In our house we’re also celebrating the arrival of a new little four-legged guest having succumbed to the charm of a mature age Heinz breed dog, abandoned by his owner and in need of a good home.  When you’ve been used to the company of a pet and you lose that animal, it’s surprising how greatly their absence dominates.  And now suddenly Charlie has brought life into that space again, inviting walks in the approaching good weather and a very warm welcome at regular moments each day.  No wonder pets, dogs especially, are recommended now as part of therapy for many groups of people.  And, believe it or not, something in this little fellow’s eyes hints at a kind of celebration for him too, now that he’s securely placed in a loving home again.

So this year as spring offers hope, enthusiasm and the urge to change, as you will see in our Newsletter, we want to share a wider sense of celebration, too.  We also continue to celebrate the 30 years’ exciting, responsive and immensely satisfying work here at the Centre – and so, building on the strand I commenced last month, I offer another ‘pearl of wisdom’, building on the words attributed to Lao-tzu:

While “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”, if that step is taken with ease, the journey is guaranteed to present far less difficulty.