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Welcoming the Spring Equinox

This Saturday, March 20 is the spring equinox this year. Yes, some of you may have learned that the spring equinox is March 21.

It is a “movable feast” because of a complicated relationship of Sun and Earth, in Earth’s yearly trip around Sun. It is probably worth noting that I use those capitals and don’t say, “the sun and the earth.”

Years ago, Sister Barbara Doherty told a group of Sisters at some meeting that in her study of Earth Literacy that usage was encouraged. We do not say “the Mars” or “the Venus.”

A year ago, I was frustrated that we couldn’t gather for an equinox celebration. Our celebrations had shrunk to just a few participants among the senior sisters living on campus. So I had begun inviting the larger community in to celebrate with us. College faculty and students were
contributing their expertise for the spring equinox celebration in March 2020. You know what happened to those plans and so many other plans in 2020.

One of the resources I use for daily prayer is the Celtic devotional by Caitlin Mathews. It is an older book no longer in print. What I like about it is it has a morning and evening prayer for every day of the week and also the prayers changes seasonally.

It follows the Celtic calendar where winter includes the months of November December and January. Spring is February March and April. This division of the calendar is centered around the equinoxes and solstices.

The prayers for winter include many references for the nourishing of the seeds within us which may come to blossom in the spring. It is always a wonderful sign of hope to pray on January 31 saying goodbye to winter and February 1 greeting the new season of spring.

Maybe it’s a sign of the ancient customs that Lent always coincides with this definition of spring. After all, as I learned in eighth grade, Easter is “The first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox.” I have also learned somewhere in my past that Lent in some language means spring.

This gives rise to many images for thinking about Lent and understanding the disciplines of Lent.

After all we are digging in the inner soil of our souls, preparing the ground, planting the seeds and getting ready for resurrection and new life whether we are gardening or praying because, after all, gardening can be prayer.

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Sister Mary Moloney

Sister Mary Moloney, a sister of Providence since 1960, grew up in Chicago. Sister Mary taught math and science and also was campus minister at Indiana University. She recently moved to the motherhouse in Saint Mary-of-the-Woods after thirty years of ministry in Oklahoma.

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1 Comment

  1. Donna Butler on March 23, 2021 at 4:25 pm

    Mary,
    I loved this blog. I have never looked so forward to spring in my whole life!

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