DionRabouin.com (sort of)

Celebrate the New Spring Cleaning

Posted in Opinion by dionrabouin on April 3, 2012

(April column for the Greater Far Northeast Reporter)

This year Christians will celebrate Easter Sunday on April 8. That day falls one day after Jews begin their weeklong celebration of the holy holiday Passover. It’s fitting that these celebrations take place in April because April is the month of renewal. It’s the month of fresh starts and new beginnings.

Christians celebrate the Lord Jesus Christ being resurrected and returning to the world three days after he was buried and thought to be dead. Jews celebrate their ancestors’ freedom from slavery in Egypt and subsequent arrival in the “promised land.” Both celebrations mark a new beginning and a time to push out the old and bring in the new.

For Christians, Easter marks the end of Lent, a 40-day period of fasting, prayer, and penance. From these judicious 40 days of honoring the sacrifices Jesus endured, Christians move into spring by celebrating Easter. The Bible teaches Jesus’ resurrection, which Easter celebrates, is a foundation of the Christian faith. The resurrection established Jesus as the true son of God and is cited as proof that God will judge the world in righteousness.

Passover is a time when Jews celebrate the Pharaoh of Egypt freeing the Israelites. It is said that the Israelites left Egypt in such a hurry that they didn’t even wait for the dough on their bread to rise. To commemorate their expeditious exit from slavery in a foreign land, no bread with yeast is eaten for the duration of Passover. Instead Jewish families eat Matzo, which is flat, unleavened bread, as a symbol of the holiday and a reminder of the escape. Because of the sacred place Matzo has in the holiday, many Jewish families believed it was arrogant and even an insult to their ancestors to keep any bread with yeast in the house, even crumbs. So they would porously peruse their house for the smallest morsels of bread with yeast. During this search for crumbs families would ceremoniously clean out their houses.

For Jews and gentiles alike, before the advent of modern heating, cooling and insulation, families in cold weather climates like ours would almost literally barricade themselves inside their homes to keep the frozen air of winter out. Once the weather got began to improve they would open all the doors and windows in the house and perform a full-scale house cleaning. With the warmer weather they could open the house and let the wind carry out all the accrued soot and dirt remnants that had collected during the winter.

Today we have vacuum cleaners, heating systems and central air. We also have maid services and Pine Sol and cleaners that don’t require noxious fumes to cleanse our home. So we don’t really need spring cleaning. Or do we?

Sure, it’s a ritual that has all but died in the 21st century for most of us, but it’s something I propose we pick back up. I don’t mean the spring cleaning where we air out our entire house and clean it from top to bottom. I’m talking about a spiritual spring cleaning. The month of April is absolutely perfect for personal spring cleaning.

I like to look at spring as a time to cleanse myself, to rid myself of all the dirt and soot that’s gathered within me during the cold winter months. We’re all prone to let lethargy get the best of us when we have the convenient excuse that the weather won’t allow us to (fill in the blank) and the coming of spring is a perfect time to jettison those excuses and become the people we’ve talked for so long about being.

Sure there are New Year’s resolutions, but the cold weather and harsh terrain of February and March can quickly make us much less resolute about our so-called resolutions. So in 2012 allow springtime to change you. Allow yourself to be taken away with the wind and be cleaned by the warm air and the sun shining on your face. Allow spring to be about more than losing weight or watching your language. Allow spring to be about cleaning yourself, inside and out.

Spring is also a time for rain. While we don’t normally get a lot in Denver, rain itself is a reminder of our potential for renewal. Rain has the dual function of creating new life and washing away that which is no longer living. The rain can also clear the air and bring fresh water to places that are removed from a water supply.

The ancient Mayans coined the term equinox to refer to the time of change in their calendar. The term actually means equal night. The idea behind the equinox is that it gives us the balance between day and night, light and darkness. There is both a spring and a winter equinox to denote the times when the day and the night become even and equal.
Estee Taschereau, a woman who specializes in the works and influence of the Mayans, explains that the equinox is about equality within yourself and looking at everything in life from a clearer perspective.

“This means we can let go of the greater than or less than in life, at least for a moment,” she writes in her “Mayan Daily Insights,” series. “Stop weighing and measuring our lives, and look more clearly at seed or nucleus of value that is our ‘being’ here in this life.”

For those looking for equilibrium, there’s no better time than spring. It’s nature’s even season and your body is already attuned to it. You just have to listen and be ready to change.

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