It has felt like a long, hard winter in Rochester. Not dreadful, no massive blizzards, no crippling ice storms, just cold and never-ending. The delicate touches of spring we’re finally seeing are even that much more welcome because it’s taken so long for them to arrive. The robins got here a little early and had to scrabble in the snow for a while, but now they’re looking for nesting places and pecking around on the grass for worms. The hyacinths near the warm front wall of the house have been poking up for more than a week now, and we’ve found the few scattered crocuses that the voles didn’t eat. The snowdrops back in the woods are a mass of drooping white bells, and the forsythia are in that delicious state of impending bloom – hints of yellow along the long, willowy branches. One or two more warm days and the world will be awash with color.
Spring’s arrival was a big part of our last Wellspring session, which was about the theology of joy. We added this new topic to complement the more difficult subjects of how we UU’s deal with crisis and evil, but I don’t think we’d intentionally planned to have the discussion just as people were starting to feel the joys of emerging warmer weather. It’s so much easier to feel joy when the sky is blue and we can shed some of the layers of sweaters and boots that have encased us over the winter.
For the discussion on joy, we asked participants to read the introduction to Roger Housden’s collection of poems called Dancing with Joy. He helps us think about why we often feel that our spiritual lives are fed by pain and sadness but feel guilty about giving in to the transforming power of joy. Another part of the assignment was bringing poems that expressed joy for us. I loved the variety of writings that my group offered, as individual as the members themselves – about the sea, and nature, and Hafiz, and fig trees, and connection. The very act of hearing one another read our favorites made for a joyful session.
It was hard for me to choose just one poem for my contribution, since there are so many that bring me joy. After some thought, I read one that I’ve loved for years, an e.e. cummings poem about spring:
spring when the world is mud-
luscious the little
whistles far and wee
and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it’s
when the world is puddle-wonderful
old balloonman whistles
far and wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing
from hop-scotch and jump-rope and
May spring fill our souls with joy and wonder.