Spring, which begins March 20, is a season of spiritual awakening for many of the world’s faiths. This week’s clergy discuss why spring is a time of celebration, renewal and reconnection with the natural world and our fellow humans.
Saeed Boor Boor
Secretary, Spiritual Assembly, Baha'is of Brookhaven Town
The spiritual significance of spring can be seen in the writings of Baha'u'llah, the founder of the Baha'i faith, who was born in the 19th century in Persia. He wrote of spring: "It behooves you to refresh and revive your souls through the gracious favors which in this divine, this soul-stirring springtime are being showered upon you."
On the first day of spring, Baha'is around the world celebrate Naw-Rúz (Persian for "new-day"), which marks the end of the last month of the Baha'i calendar. Baha'is fast from sunrise to sunset and strive for spiritual excellence. We welcome the first day of the new Baha'i year by gathering with friends and family to say prayers for the well-being of everyone on Long Island, and to socialize, feast, sing and dance.
Similar to last year, we will be celebrating virtually to stem the spread of COVID-19. Just as spring marks the end of cold and dark days, Baha'is believe that now is the time for humanity to forgo its differences and, with the exotic colors of spring’s diversity, blossom together in the garden of unity.
Rabbi Barry J. Chesler
High School Jewish studies coordinator and faculty member, Schechter School of Long Island, Williston Park
In the Jewish tradition, spring is closely associated with freedom. Spring is the time of the festival of Passover, commemorating the Exodus from Egypt.
Although the months of the Jewish calendar are based on the lunar cycle, the appearance of the new moon marking the beginning of each Hebrew month, seven months are added every 19 years so that the lunar and solar calendars are never too far apart and guaranteeing the occurrence of Passover at springtime. At the Seder, the ritualized meal the first two nights of Passover, on March 27 and 28 this year, greens will be dipped in saltwater, partly to evoke springtime, with the greens emblematic of the greening earth at this time of year.
There is a tradition to recite the biblical book Song of Songs in the synagogue during Passover. While the rabbis understood Song of Songs to be emblematic of the profound love between God and Israel, many cultures associate love and romance with the springtime, when all seems possible with the earth unfolding its majesty. The Jewish insight is that history ultimately transcends agriculture; while agriculture is circular, history is linear. Thus spring is a new beginning promising, with God’s grace, freedom to all who are oppressed.
The Rev. Natalie Fenimore
Minister of Lifespan Religious Education, Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock, Manhasset
Spring, a much anticipated season, symbolizes for Unitarian Universalists the same spirit of rebirth and renewal as it does in most other faiths. It is the resurrection season although not all our membership celebrates it as Easter.
Resurrection and rebirth can be seen, of course, in nature itself — with the growth of flowers from deep in the earth or from dried seeds; with the budding of leaves on what looked like the dead, dry branches of trees; and with the advent of sunny days, which warm our bodies and our hearts. These miracles of nature give rise to an appreciation of our environment and demand our attention to care for this, our only planet home.
Spring is also the time to unbundle ourselves — not just from heavy clothes but from heavy burdens. We see new life, and with it, new possibilities. We reach out to one another. And especially now, as we reach out to the light at the end of the tunnel in this pandemic, spring symbolizes our ability to get back to life, to imagine a new and better, more just, more connected world. Spring reminds us that we can be reborn again and again and again — in interconnection with the earth and with each other.
DO YOU HAVE QUESTIONS you’d like Newsday to ask the clergy? Email them to LILife@newsday.com.