THE gift of spring
Lent is a contemplative time for many of us, as we read and meditate on our daily readings in our Lent booklet and Daily Word. This time of reflection is always an important and vital part of life. It reflects the necessary waiting time before we can receive new life, energy, direction and ideas, which lead us forward in our development and growth.
The season of spring reflects this so well. The plants have been dormant for the winter, resting, taking their nutrients from the ground and gathering in the energy they need to burst forth with new life, which they then share with us through their beauty. For those of us who are lucky enough to go outside for walks, or can enjoy our gardens or balconies, we are witnessing the joy of spring bursting forth (just like the song goes!)
As I reflect on this with you, two aspects come to my mind.
This time of year, as a part-time gardener, I have been pruning back the shrubs, taking out the dead wood where necessary, and cutting back the long extended limbs from last year’s growth, so that the plants take their energy back into their centre and bring forth new, strong life from here.
This is something we can do for ourselves as well. We cut out, or eliminate, that which does not serve us – the old ways of responding or being, which we now intrinsically recognise do not help us. We do this kindly, compassionately, with respect for ourselves just as we respect our plants. I tell my shrubs when I am going to cut them back and thank them for their life and beauty this coming year. In the same way with us, it does not work to punish or berate ourselves when we cut out old ways of responding. It does work to say, “Thank you, but I do not need to do this anymore.” The more we release these old ways and centre inward, the more strongly new growth and energy can literally burst forth through us.
The other very important aspect is the joy that fills us as we witness new life springing forth in nature. Sometimes we need triggers to help remind us that God is here in the midst; that even though times have been challenging this past year, spring is here and God is here.
Let us take time to just stop and open our hearts to nature. Let us witness the beautiful flowers in all their glory; celebrate the catkins and green buds on the trees; smell the amazing scent of narcissus and hyacinths; hear the birds sing their glorious songs at dawn. When we open our hearts to let in and receive this spring beauty, we open to receive God’s Grace.
For all of nature is God’s love revealing itself – here blessing all of us equally and without condition.
The invitation is that we take time this month to appreciate, deeply, nature’s gift – the sharing of Divine Love and Grace – that uplifts our souls, reminds us we are connected to all of life; one with all life. Out of this natural wellspring of energy, we experience life manifesting through us as new ideas, expression and desires. As we connect and take in love and Grace, we are reminded that we, too, are love and we are truly living when we share this love with the world.
In whatever way you experience spring this year, let it open your heart. Use the gift of nature to let in Divine Love as Grace, and then let it out and share this gift, to bless you, each other and our world.
Rev Kimerie Mapletoft
Director of Silent Unity and Daily Word UK
At home with God
"I was thinking about my own home, and whether I could look at it through metaphysical eyes. How could I use the material aspects of my home to enhance my spiritual journey?
I live in what is called a studio flat. I have 3 rooms - a bathroom, a kitchen and a combination of lounge and bedroom, which I call a bed-sitting room. So if I go through each of these rooms, what do they remind me about my connection with the Divine?
Entrance hallway - brings to mind the book by Unity minister Ellen Debenport called Hell in the Hallway - Light at the Door. Its theme, as I understand it, is about the time in-between decisions, when we are uncertain about what will come next. So I see my hallway as the entrance to the interior of my home, and until I make the decision as to which door to go through, I am in a moment of uncertainty. But I am still home, and we are still home with God during those moments of indecision.
Bathroom toilet - if I open the door on my left I am in my bathroom/toilet, the place of cleanliness and release. Here I am reminded of the importance of releasing anything that is standing in the way of my good, anything that no longer serves me. Holding on to negative thoughts about ourselves keeps us down and when we do let go, we feel lighter, both physically and spiritually.
This is also the place of cleanliness. I use water to take a shower or cleanse my face or wash my hands. Water is a symbol of life, we talk about living water, and it reminds me of being in the flow, of life, of the consciousness of God, of being home with God.
Kitchen - standing outside my bathroom, turning to the left, I open the door to the kitchen. The kitchen is where we keep and prepare our food, the nourishment for our body. We decide what we are going to have and create a meal for ourselves. It reminds me to keep and use food that will nourish me physically and emotionally. If I get the balance off, there is the challenge of indigestion!
There is also food for the soul, which feeds our connection with God. I am reminded that there can be spiritual indigestion as well, if I take in too much, and not give myself time for absorption, and quiet times of reflection.
Bed-sitting room : standing outside my kitchen, the door to the left leads to my bed-sitting room. It's where I am engaged with reading, with music and with entertainment. It contains my television, books, records, computer. They are my windows to the world, particularly so during the pandemic and restrictions. I find inspiration and support here.
I also have my bed, which for me is where I can be rested, refreshed and renewed. That is where the balance is - to be inspired and motivated, to take that to a quiet place, and let it unfold for the highest and best. To take it home with God.
So that's how I use my physical home to symbolically connect with my spiritual home - my home with God.
I guess most people may live in houses or larger spaces that I have, with other rooms that might be reminders of spiritual aspects of our lives.
Dining room - a place to gain nourishment and share meals - to take what comes to us in inspiration and share it willingly with the world
Basement - this could be a place of storage, for things we don't use very often, for ideas that are not part of our everyday living but perhaps we are reluctant to totally release
Attic - another place of storage, but perhaps of treasured things. As a basement thought takes us below, so an attic thought takes us above.
Conservatory - a place mostly filled with light because of the windows - a place of resting and feeling the lightness of things, feeling our own lightness of being.
Garage - a place where motor vehicles can be kept; we use that for travelling, more storage of things needed from time to time, that help with renewal and repair
Looking at a home in a metaphysical way, that works on the principle of using our human experiences to take us to spiritual expression."
Nancy Sandoval - Unity Teacher
Unity in the UK