Putting Spring In Our Step
April 26, 2010
Like a lot of you, when the calendar page turned to March I breathed a deep sigh of relief. I was really over all of the snow we had this winter. Sure, there were times when its beauty and peace were very inspiring. There were moments when I felt like I was a true rugged individual as I shoveled my steps and trudged through the snowy streets to restock my pantry. But really, one of the reasons I moved to this area from Cleveland was to get away from the flakes. Of course being that Congress is located here—that may have been overly optimistic. Be that as it may, we all deserve a collective pat on the back for making it to spring.
Winter can be a time when we get overwhelmed with dealing with the snow and limited sun and just can’t cope very well. This reminds me of a story… Ollie and Lena were sitting down to their usual morning cup of coffee listening to the weather report on the radio. “There will be 3 to 5 inches of snow today, and a snow emergency has been declared,” the weather report said. “You must park your cars on the odd numbered side of the streets.” Ollie said, “Jeez, okay,” and got up from his coffee. The next day they were sitting down with their morning cups of coffee. The weather forecast was, “There will be 2 to 4 inches of snow today, and a snow emergency has been declared. You must park your cars on the even numbered side of the streets.” Again Ollie replied, “Jeez, okay,” and got up from his coffee. Two days later, again they are sitting down with their cups of coffee and the weather forecast said, “There will be 6 to 8 inches of snow today, and a snow emergency has been declared. You must park your cars on the…” and the power went out and Ollie didn’t get the rest of the instructions. He turned to Lena, “Jeez, what am I going to do now, Lena?” Lena replied, “Aw, Ollie, just leave the car in the dang garage today.”
I think we are out of the snow zone now. I already see green shoots emerging from the soil. It’s a reminder for me that life keeps on going even when it feels like I am in a deep freeze. It reminds me that if my outer landscape looks barren and desolate, I need but turn inward to know that transformation is occurring. It also reminds me to stay away from judging someone else’s outer landscape. And, as usual, at times this is easier said than done. I readily admit that there are situations where I would rather grumble and stomp my foot and well, curse the darkness rather than light a candle. Ya know what I mean?? And that leaves me sitting in the dark talking to myself.
I think it is fair to say that all of us have thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors that keep us stuck in the dirt, not growing, and not being who we were meant to be.
What does it take to become as resilient as a spring flower? How do we tap into the constancy of the cherry blossoms? How do we put spring into our step regardless of the situation or time of year? When I was creating this sermon with the theme of spring I had a vision of everyone here with slinky-type springs attached to their shoes and all of us bouncing around. And, as we spring forward to claim or reclaim our Oneness with Spirit—that is exactly how we’ll feel. Bouncy, alive, joyful. So, let’s take a look at some steps we can utilize to achieve this bounce.
Seems like I’m always coming up with ways to remember steps, and that is true yet again. So, in order to put spring into our steps, I offer you the opportunity to LEAP into the season—Love, Enlist, Apply, Praise. Now these steps may sound familiar, and indeed some of them are. And, that’s because the steps to our growth and Oneness and healing and removal of barriers are the same regardless of the situation. It reminds me of a story about two first-century-BCE rabbinic sages, Hillel and Shammai, contemporaries paired together by Jewish tradition as archetypical opposites: Hillel the tolerant and liberal “loose constructionist” of the Law, Shammai the exacting and inflexible “strict constructionist.” In one story about them, a man comes to both and asks, with the obvious intention of provoking them, to be taught the whole Torah while standing on one leg. Shammai is indeed provoked and gives the man an angry whack with a measuring rod. Hillel on the other hand simply replies, “That which is hateful to you, do not unto another: This is the whole Torah. The rest is commentary — [and now] go study.” And so the steps to releasing those thoughts, beliefs, and actions that don’t serve us are familiar—now let’s go embody them.
Learn-Let’s learn what serves our highest good. Sitting in a dark room cursing the lack of light does not serve my highest good. Repeating the same patterns or thinking the same unproductive thoughts or believing the same hurtful notions will not move any of us towards our highest good. Learning to say “I messed up, I forgive myself, and I now know to try something different” will. Learn to release self-judgment and the judgment of others. Let’s learn to rely on God to support us with every breath we take and let’s learn that God will give us as many “do-overs” as we ask for. Let’s learn that love is always the answer and that fear will keep us from love. Finally let’s learn that we are worth the effort—that we are loveable, that we are good enough, smart enough, and worthy enough to deserve the best that this life has to offer. The first letter of LEAP—L—is for Learn.
Enlist-We don’t have to learn by ourselves. Enlist the assistance of others. I know that when I lend a hand to other people I feel good. I feel I am being of service. I feel God’s love running through me. So really, someone is doing ME a favor when they ask for assistance. Who can you do a favor for today by asking them to listen to you, to coach you, to get feedback from? And of course God is available 24/7 to give Her two-cents worth. Do God a favor—enlist Her assistance. The E in LEAP is for Enlist.
Apply-We learn. We enlist others. Now let’s apply what we know. I found myself watching the Winter Olympics more this year than in the past. Particularly the figure skating. If those skaters did not learn, enlist, and apply I doubt that they would have been able to do those lutzes and salchow’s and axel’s. And when they fell, they immediately got up without missing more than a beat or two. In fact, I do believe they leaped! What if we lived our lives that way? What if we didn’t go into pity or self-recrimination or despair when we fell—but instead got up, got some coaching, and got back on the proverbial ice? All with a smile on our face and sequins on our clothes. Let’s all do some double toe loops on dry land. The A in LEAP is for Apply.
On to our final letter--P. You’ve heard me up here often enough to know by now what the P stands for…
Praise-We have to keep our praise muscle in shape. We have to use it, flex it, and strengthen it. Getting back to those figure skaters—if they missed a few days of skating—much less a week or more—do you think they would be as finely tuned as we saw at the Olympics? The same is true for our praise muscle. Hear me when I say this—a flabby praise muscle is a sorry sight to behold. Don’t let it happen to you. Work it girls (and boys). Let the One who makes all things possible know we are grateful. Here is one way to do it—I now turn to my “inner rapper” for assistance! Praise Her in your room. Praise Her when you zoom. Praise Him when you’re tired, praise Him when you’re wired. Praise Her when you’re sick, praise Her real quick. Praise Him up and down, don’t praise Him with a frown. Praise Her with a song, praise Her all day long. I think you get the picture!!
So my friends—take a LEAP. A LEAP of faith. A LEAP of trust. A LEAP of love. Learn. Enlist. Apply. Praise. Spring into action. Spring into a new season. Spring into life. Spring into who you are meant to be.
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