By Vickie Wilcher
It’s late April and much of the country is just breaking through winter’s freeze. Spring is late, but the goddess that she is, her entrance is no less stunning. She has, as her time honored tradition dictates, brought with her flowers of perfect reds, purples and yellows. Her grass presents in shades of green that crayola dare not try to reproduce; and her birds that had flown south for winter have come home, bringing morning and evening songs that we didn’t realize we missed until we heard them for the first time just a few days ago. Some of us are able/fortunate enough to recognize the splendor of her work in nature; and in the impact she has even on the human psyche—those who are receptive to her cleansing showers, gentle breezes and awe inspiring sounds and colors. Others, however, those who are likely so burdened by the weight of winters past, are not able to see and seize the moment of new life that Springtime, on the direction of God/the Universe, so graciously, so naturally brings and lays at their feet.
For some, it’s enough to do some spring cleaning; for others Spring only marks the beginning of the Summer vacation season; and for still others, Spring simply means a change in weather. But there are also those among us (myself included) who believe that while we can experience new birth in any instance, Spring symbolizes and offers a special occasion in which, through her restorative powers, her warmth and brightness, she can breathe new life into us and we can start anew. After all, there are leaves on trees and blossoms on flowers that just yesterday appeared lifeless.
On the matter of “new life,” or as those of the Christian faith would say, “to be born again,” I can recall being a young know-it-all, when my grandmother and many of her church friends would talk about the importance of being “born again.” At that point in my life I was quick to retort, in my mind, if not aloud with an always smug teenage tone; “And just how would I accomplish that—how do I die then come back to life?” I didn’t know what I didn’t know then. Later, a college course load choc-full of psychology and sociology classes, a return to, and subsequent departure from the organized church and a fascination with spiritual and motivational books and programs, I finally came to my understanding of what it is to “be born again;” based largely on the teachings of A Course in Miracles, which says that through Atonement we are able to choose/begin again; and the work of author, Eckart Tolle, who tells us that the key to new life is to “die before you die and to realize there is no death.
Interestingly, my epiphany was made absolutely clear to me during a presentation I gave to raise money for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), an organization that serves neglected and abused children. I talked candidly about the little girls and boys who would go to bed nightly not knowing who would later come into their rooms to molest them, sometimes in the most vile and inhumane ways. It was my coming to understand how those children survived their torment that led me to clarity around the notion of beginning again. I learned that those children could and often did, during the course of having to endure a most atrocious pain, shut their minds down to what was actually happening; and afterwards they could, and often did create tougher, stronger personas that helped them to cope with the lives they’d been subjected to.
These, and other innocent children from every socio-economic, race and class from all over the world, had the emotional fortitude to create a new self—a self, that would allow them to ease, if not somehow cope with whatever their pain. And it is this new self, this very necessary self that at the appropriate time can and does die so that the True-self, the God-self can be “reborn.” Once my lesson was complete, I came to appreciate with great vigor the fact that we can all always atone, and so choose again, “be born again” and thereby have every power to bring about the change of Spring-time as a matter of a God given authority bestowed upon each of us—without exception. To be sure, neglected and abused children aren’t the only ones who create new selves. Grown-ups from all walks of life invent and reinvent themselves all the time. Politicians and other leaders for instance, often create the personas they need to in order to gain personal power and other resources. The point in this case becomes then that these people could just as easily choose atonement and rebirth so that they’d come to use their gifts for the good of the mass versus simply for their personal gain—which is all too often the situation.
Given the various religious, spiritual and meta-physical beliefs around the nature and existence of the “true-self,” it’s not difficult for one to at the very least acknowledge the idea that there is a “higher-self,” a “God-self”—call it what you will—that is immutable, that dwells always in the very depths of our souls no matter what we have done or had to do to suppress it; and that waits only for us to call it forth. If we went further and chose to accept this idea as truth, then it would not be a stretch to assume that a return to that true/higher/God-self would cause us to behave in a more God-like manner—a manner in which we cared more deeply for and about one another.
More specifically, if we were operating from the place of our higher-selves, wouldn’t it be reasonable to assume that we, perpetrators and onlookers alike, would be more likely to work to fix the school systems that continually fail our children, correctional facilities that do not rehabilitate, housing authorities that don’t provide adequate housing for the poor and homeless; and governments that are generally neither run for or by the people; not because there was necessarily any opportunity for personal gain—though personal reward, according to most religious and spiritual doctrines would be inevitable—but because we were simply compelled to act in ways that led us to contribute to the healthy and progressive functioning of the whole of society.
Upon this writing, not only are we thawing from winter’s last freeze but many Christians are celebrating Holy Week. The Resurrection then is at the forefront of the hearts and minds of millions of people across the world. The Bible and other religious texts are full of examples of human restoration—proofs that we too can rise to meet our true/higher/God-selves. We can in fact, with the power of Spring-time and faith, empty our minds and hearts of greed, fear and selfishness; we can correct the lies that we’ve told and heal the wounds we’ve inflicted. We can choose again. We can be Reborn.