05 February 2012

Spring in the Balance (March 2011)

March first, and the winds came blowing hard ahead of the storm. They came not, however, from the south or west, from where we usually receive them, but from the east, the direction of the rising sun, of new beginnings.

Because spring begins on the vernal equinox each March, this month speaks to me of both balance and hope. It’s a time when we begin to emerge from winter, when we become more active, energized by the winds and the increasing light.

And yet, like those gale-force winds that came tearing through, it also seems to be a time of extremes. These weeks leading up to the equinox are a time of dawn-to-dusk fasting for Baha’is. Catholics practice abstinence and penitence for Lent. On Purim, celebrants are instructed to get so drunk that they can’t tell the difference between “blessed by Mordechai” and “cursed be Hamen.”

But we can’t sustain extremes. We need balance, equanimity, harmony. The equinox marks the point when light and dark are equal. Picture a teeter-totter: the equinox is that pivotal resting point when both sides are equal. At the same time, spring is filled with joyous hope. The natural world is bursting with new life, and we become infused with creative energy, budding with possibilities. So we must create balance between our physical needs – the chores of daily existence – our imagination, and, because spring is also a time of spiritual renewal, our soul. We must pace ourselves through our days, give ourselves time to dream, and to connect with those things that give our life meaning and joy.

March came in like a lion. In theory, at least, it will go out like a lamb. Hopefully we can find a middle ground for our own energy, a sustaining calm and steady breeze.

Happy Spring!

Tip of the Month
A friend of mine is seeking to deepen his spiritual practice. He realized he needs two things to make this happen – inspiration and structure – and that the inspiration comes from immersing himself in spirituality by going on short retreats. He has found that the experience of immersion energizes him enough to sustain the inspiration and adhere to the structure of a daily prayer practice.

Which area of your life is out of balance? What is it you’re not doing that you want to add into your life? Take a day or two to immerse yourself in it, to charge your batteries and find your inspiration.

Quotes of the Month
When you were born, you cried
and the world rejoiced.
Live your life
so that when you die,
the world cries and you rejoice.
– White Elk

For every person who has ever lived there has come, at last, a spring he will never see. Glory then in the springs that are yours.
– Pam Brown

If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you, if the simple things in nature have a message you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive.
– Eleanora Duse

A single crocus blossom ought to be enough to convince our heart that springtime, no matter how predictable, is somehow a gift, gratuitous, gratis, a grace.
– David Steindl-Rast

Everyone needs beauty as well as bread, places to play and pray, where nature heals and gives strength to body and soul alike.
– John Muir

Recipe of the Month
(I stole this one from Epicurious.com and modified it slightly.)

Cream of Asparagus Soup
2 pounds asparagus
1 large onion, chopped
3 tablespoons butter
5 to 6 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup crème fraîche or heavy cream
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Cut tips from 12 asparagus. Reserve for garnish.

Cut stalks and all remaining asparagus into 1/2-inch pieces.

Cook onion in 2 tablespoons butter in a 4-quart heavy pot over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened. Add asparagus pieces then cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add 5 cups broth and simmer, covered, until asparagus is very tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

While soup simmers, steam reserved asparagus tips until just tender, 3 to 4 minutes.

Purée soup in batches in a blender until smooth, then return to pan.

Stir in crème fraîche, then add more broth to thin soup to desired consistency.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring soup to a boil and whisk in remaining tablespoon of butter.

Add lemon juice and garnish with asparagus tips.

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