Talk given by Rev. Phyllis Grace at Unity – 11th October 2020
Spring Awakening by Miriam Green
Spring is the joy
Of the birds singing,
Raindrops trickling down the gum trees.
When spring is here I am alive,
Everything is rushing to hatch,
Now fresh and fragrant.
Everything about spring is airy and new,
Flowing freely, fragile, but strong.
Nothing can break the happiness in spring,
The energy, the laughter, the joy.
Spring is the inspiration for artists,
Fine colours of the rainbow are
The most beautiful to me.
I love spring, the flowers and the rainbow,
the long green grass swaying gently
With the wind , the wind.
Yes the wind of Spring can be just as challenging as the rain in winter and yet spring is a beautiful time of year as the poem reflects there is a newness about spring. The flowers bloom in profusion, the birds are singing and new life is appearing everywhere.
Spring is the season when many of us decide it is time to give our homes an extra special cleaning which for me also means releasing items I no longer need or use. I find it a freeing experience to go through the rooms of my home and release unwanted items.
We may think of spring cleaning as a task performed within the home and generally it is the women who do this but men too spring clean when they rearrange and release old unused items in their shed. Spring Cleaning has come to be synonymous with any kind of heavy-duty cleaning or organizing enterprise. A person who gets their paper work in order prior to the end of the financial year in readiness to submit their tax returns could be said to be doing some spring cleaning.
As I was preparing my talk I wondered about the tradition of spring cleaning and if there was some historical background to the practice and found that it is a tradition that goes back possibly 3000 years.
In most northern regions of America and Europe, where the climate is continental and quite damp, the custom of spring cleaning had a purely practical application. Late winter to early spring was the best time to thoroughly dust your home because the weather is warm enough to let fresh air in and chilly enough to keep out any insect infestation. People no longer had to heat their homes and could finally get rid of soot and ash marks.
The Ancient Iranian Festival of Norouz, also known as the Persian new year, falls on the first day of spring. Just before their new year which usually begins on the 21st March they do a ‘shaking the house’ when everything in the house is thoroughly cleaned, from the drapes to the furniture.
The Chinese have a tradition prior to Chinese New Year when they clean bad luck and misfortune out of the home. They throw out old altar ornaments and replace them with fresh decorations. They wipe and mop ceilings, walls, and floors and for at least two days of the Chinese New Year sweeping is forbidden so no lucky fortune gets sweep away.
Historically the ancient Jewish custom of thoroughly cleaning the house in preparation for the springtime feast of Passover (usually happens around April).
Jews are bound to avoid leavened food throughout the entire holiday. Even the tiniest of “chametz” crumbs count. That’s why conscientious Jews carry out a thorough spring clean of their entire home. In fact, having the slightest sign of leavened bread at home while Passover lasts is considered as ungrateful and is strictly forbidden. Rightful Jews cannot afford to insult God and that’s why people thoroughly wipe and mop their homes room by room and from top to bottom. This equivalent of spring cleaning is followed by a ritual hunt for chametz crumbs by candlelight, the night before the first day of Passover.
Judaism celebrate Passover at the same time as Christianity celebrate Easter. Prior to easter Christians are also encourage to observe Lent which traditionally has suggested giving up some physical or material desire like some sort of food or refraining from participating in a particular practice which maybe something like smoking or drinking alcohol. I’m sure if you had a connection to a traditional Christian church you will know what I am talking about. In Unity we encourage the releasing of negative thoughts and looking at ways of incorporating positive words and actions into our lives more fully. This Charles Fillmore tells us is a cleansing of the mind.
In the northern hemisphere Easter is celebrated in Spring and so a spring clean of the home would possibly be an activity that many household participate in and as that coincides with the period of Lent people in Unity maybe encouraged to do a spring clean of the home while also doing a spring clean of their mind. Those of us who live in the southern hemisphere get the opportunity to do the Lenten practice of cleansing the mind in autumn and then in spring do the spring clean of the home. It has been my experience however that as I do a spring clean, I am also letting go of a lot of baggage and that frees my mind as well. I find that as I clear the house of unwanted goods, I feel freer and lighter. My home also feels brighter and lighter with the release of ‘Stuff’. I don’t consider myself a hoarder and yet I am often surprised at how much there is about the home that needs to be release. Likewise, I am often surprised at thoughts and feeling that arise even as I do the spring clean that are related to an incident that happened years ago, so depending on the kind of emotion that is experienced this maybe an indication that I need to do some forgiving and releasing around past events.
Often when my grandson’s played soccer I would pick up a program that listed the players on the day and included articles from some of the members of the home club. In one such program I read a short article that was titled, “Wait a minute….I just changed that!” The article reminded the reader that we must be able to adjust three things in order to become adaptable. These are our thinking, our emotion and our behaviour.
About thinking, the writer pointed out the importance of keeping a level head and an open mind. Perception is where it all begins and our perception is about the way we think. We need to understand that change is not a negative but is inevitable he wrote. We all know that change is the only constant in our lives. So be open to changing your mind.
The second thing considered in the article was emotions. When we let our emotions run free we become inconsistent. The writer suggested that unbridled anger can ruin relationships, and that even extreme elation can be unproductive. Yes we have emotions and we must recognise them and not let them run or ruin our lives. Emotional control is the key to good reasoning and it’s best to ask one-self, ‘Why do I feel like this?” and when we can answer that question we are more receptive to making a change that will serve us more appropriately.
The last thing the article suggested we may need to adjust is our behaviour. When something goes awry, we need to relax, think, make a decision and keep moving. Regret is the result of what we did not do rather than what was tried and failed.
You may have realised that the article was aimed at the players and coaches but the advice can be useful to anyone.
We all need to be aware of our thoughts, our emotions and behaviour and make changes when they are not creating the outcomes we want. Spring is a season of change and change is about new growth experiences.
Using our innate ability to rule our mind we can rule our emotions and behaviour. We also have the ability to see thing differently and spring cleaning of the mind is as important as spring cleaning of the home. Be mindful of the thoughts that you harbour in your mind because they will affect your emotions and behaviour. Get rid of the cobwebs of your mind. Clean out the negative thinking and replace it with positive thoughts and that will have a follow on affect to the emotions and behaviour.
Charles Fillmore wrote in his book Prosperity, “We are learning that thoughts are things and occupy “space” in mind. We cannot have new or better ones in a place already crowded with old, weak, inefficient thoughts. A mental house cleaning is even more necessary than a material one, for the without is but a reflection of the within. Clean the inside of the platter, where the food is kept as well as the outside that people see, taught Jesus.”
How do we do that? The use of denials or release statements and affirmations which are consciousness conditioners, are an effective way of cleansing the mind. First we must become aware of the negative thoughts, deny they have any power over us and replace them with a positive affirmation.
If your mind is full of negativity it may take some time to create a new way of thinking, So know that you may not see a change immediately and if you keep using the affirmations and being very mindful of the thoughts going through your mind it will happen.
I encourage you all to get started on the spring cleaning and clear away the cobwebs of your mind and perhaps your home to see a whole new world around you. A spring clean of the home or mind does not need to be saved until Easter or Spring it can be done at any time of year.