At this time of year the mystery of nature and life itself beguiles and beckons our eyes from azaleas to zeninas with this greening.In Greek mythology,springtime is born of Demeter’s gladness for her daughter Persephone’s return from the underworld. It is her joy that pushes open the tiny buds of the Crane’s Bill in purple, the first roses, the yellow freesias sending out scent before blossom – the garden greening and blushing. Is it any less wonderful to know that it is the wobbly precession of the spinning Earth on her axis that tilts our faces once again to the steepening sunlight? Spring will come, come what may.
Hildegard von Bingen (1098- 1179 ) the first and only Abbess of a monastery in the Middle Ages, named the “green force” of life Viriditas. She saw it as a spiritual power that penetrated everything and imbued the earth with life. The green flame, it has been called. “There is a power that has been since all eternity, and that force and potentiality is green!” she wrote. She described this power as divine, the animating life-force within all creation, giving it life, moisture and vitality. Viriditas was green fire and energy.
I peer into the garden, seeing the buds of a favorite trumpet flower getting fatter and fatter. At the bud’s very tip, a tiny speck of red that will, a few days later, unfurl to reveal the thumb-sized crimson trumpet. Other wispy twigs are sporting feathery antennae, that, over a few days unfurl and turn into leaves.
In art, from Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, to Dylan Thomas’ “Green Fuse”, spring and greening figure prominently. When I first met Elizabeth McKim, the poet laureate at the European Graduate School in 1997, I had just lost my beloved brother to the ravages of diabetes in the form of a fatal heart attack. As we walked in the larch forest, she recited the refrain “…and the green goes over and over.” I began weeping, not only with grief, but at once for the death of my brother, and for the recognition that life in its infinite seasons goes on. His life didn’t, my life won’t, but life itself goes on, as in the humble form of grass.
This year I was willing to allow the sadness of my Mother’s recent death live on through the fog and dreariness of Winter, but even my most noble feelings cannot fight the force of the greening. Spring green interrupts my mourning with the cheer of miniature daffodils. My heart is tickled. They make me glad. They are so exuberant. I let nature and her wisdom lead me on.
Want to make your own art to celebrate your greening? Here’s a simple, meditative process…
- A Journal
- Masking Tape or Painters Blue Tape
- Whatever art materials you prefer (Colored Pencil, Craypas, Watercolors, crayons, etc.) as long as they’re green.
Dylan Thomas. “The force that drives the green fuse…”
Brin Edwards. “Green, the color…”
Elizabeth Gordon McKim. “House, Water, Earth, Sky”