Where Are the Songs of Spring? Ay, Where Are They?
The Hope for a Better Life
It may still be freezing cold in Ukraine, it may still be a time of death and destruction, but Spring will come. The Spring of flowers and blossom, and the Spring of life and freedom. As the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda said, "you can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep Spring from coming. (Podrán cortar todas las flores, pero no podrán detener la primavera.)"
Where I live in Southern Spain, Spring is virtually over. The almond blossom has been and gone and the almond trees are heavy with almonds as they start to grow and ripen. I love being surrounded by almond trees, they are a sign of Spring in the depths of winter.
Spring Is Coming
The almond blossom comes in Winter when everything else is asleep, I always wonder how the almond trees recognise such early signs of Spring. The ones that are most shaded are first, breaking out in white or pink, grabbing the first bees that venture forth in the cold. Then a week or so later the whole valley blossoms so it looks like snow has fallen. They are not out long, they are keen to get growing the almonds before the harvest comes in early autumn, in, as John Keats called it in his 'Ode to Autumn', a
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.
In the room where I practice yoga I look out over the hills that surround us. As I stand in mountain pose ready for my salute to the sun, I look west towards the hills that will soon cradle the setting sun. In the depth of winter it is dark as I look out, I certainly don't feel like saluting the sun, but I do anyway in the knowledge that Spring is coming. Right now we approaching the equinox and the view is getting brighter. The sun is almost staying up until my salute. Every week I look for it to return the salute to me as I stand waiting.
My yoga practice takes the form of a ritual where I alternate between prostrating myself to the divinity of the practice itself, to the sun and the world that I inhabit; and opening myself to the inner power of the consciousness in all of us. My body moves in a ritualistic way to bridge the divide between inside and outside, between heart and soul. To look at me practicing you might think that all I was doing was stretching and toning my body, albeit in a dance-like, almost sensuous way, but it is far more than that, it is me offering myself to the femininity of the earth. I am using the masculinity of my body to welcome in the power of creativity in the feminine. This reverse is deliberate, the prostration is deliberate, I open myself up to be able integrate myself with my whole, perfect soul. The integration of the masculine and feminine in my practice touches the Universal Consciousness within me.
Masculinity in the World
I look out into the world around me and I see the over abundance of masculinity. It is not simply that men seem to be in charge everywhere it is also that the pressure to move forwards, to grow and develop has a masculinity deep inside it. There is a hardness, and unforgiving nature to the need and desire for more and better. I look forward every year to the Spring to balance this with a season of blossom and flowers, dancing and loving, bursting out with what cannot be contained any longer. The Spring cannot be contained or controlled, it cannot be held back for long.
Here, in Spain, the far right seem to be on the rise, the desire to look backwards to the time of control and dictatorship seems to be everywhere. But despite appearances I see it dying, its current rise is its last gasp. As I look at the heart of Spanish culture I see the growth of the feminine in public figures, I see the power of youth as it defeats the pure masculinity of the old way, I see change.
The days of autocracy are dying even as autocracy tries to destroy what it cannot control. The days of dictators are numbered. The Spring is coming, people are refusing to be put down.
The Winter of My Life
I am in the winter of my life, the world is in the hands of those far younger than me. We are entering the era of my grandchildren, but I still don't give up hope of achieving a better world, a fairer world, a greener world. My generation grew up in the hope of a better life after the Second World War. The masculinity built in to the rebuilding of Europe was powerful, but it promised too much. It seemed to offer continuous growth and untold riches for those who could step up and take control. But it went too far. It has endangered the planet and life on earth. The dying remnants of this power are erupting in Europe, and elsewhere, as those in control flail around destroying whatever they can.
But the Spring is coming.
In his 'Ode to Autumn', John Keats almost dismissed Spring,
Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
I hear the songs all around me. I hear them in the sparrows twittering in the oleander hedge that is yet to flower, I hear them in the hum of the bees as they swarm around the first flowers, I hear them in the patter of the long awaited rain on the earth, I hear them in the hopes and prayers of those looking towards a better life.
Spring is pregnant with hope, bursting with joy, let us welcome it in with a glad heart. But never forget the Winter. Pablo Neruda said about El Salvador,
The blood of murdered peasants has never clotted; time cannot congeal it, nor does the rain erase it from the roads.
Never forget those murdered in Ukraine in the name of empire. Spring will come but the rain will not erase them.