Spring arrived battered, her frilly skirt covered in mud from the floods, her petals, delicate as dragonfly wings, torn and shredded from high winds.

But wait, I said. You’re supposed to be the symbol of new growth, green shoots pushing up through frozen ground, birds returning to build nests and sing us happy songs.

Spring drank deeply from the water I offered.

That was my younger sister, she said, with no hint of envy. She doesn’t live here anymore. This earth, she gestured to the weather-torn landscape, this earth could not support her any longer. Did you think we would sail into another spring and watch the daffodils bloom as if there were no cares in the world?

No. But I hoped we would.

We have crossed a threshold and have entered a different season, she said, one we have not lived through before. This is the season of Initiation.

Initiation into what? I asked cautiously.

Haven’t you noticed, she asked. People are hurting in new old ways. More of your friends are ill. More have died. Yes, I reluctantly agreed. I’ve noticed. My friends and I had a variety of diseases and diagnoses as varied as a six-pack of spring flowers. Tossed about by divorce, death of a loved one, illness, aging, loneliness, addiction, all our habitual ways of being and doing no longer working.

Look, she said, I really hate to be a downer, but things have changed.

I could see that.

Do you remember, she asked, when you were a young seeker? How you dressed in white with flowers in your hair, bells around your ankles, ready to give your all to a guru. This initiation is not that.

You will be broken down and broken open, she continued. Ransacked like a warehouse in a street riot. You will be shipwrecked on the island of your old self, stripped of old ideas of who you are and what you need to survive, no longer willing to say yes when you mean no, no longer willing to please others before you care for yourself, no longer able to stay silent and hidden in the closet of your childhood despair. No more running blindly into the marketplace lost in the noise of the crowd when your body weeps for more rest, for comfort.

I’m not sure I like this, I said.

She smiled and tucked a strand of hair behind my ear the way my grandmother did.

No one asks to be pulled into depths you would not willingly choose, she said. But once you step onto the path there is no going back. When the time of initiation is upon you, open to the healing of old wounds and say yes, whisper it if you must, simply nod your head in assent. Be willing to let life take from you what it will because you cannot stop it, but if you let the high winds blow through you and the floodwaters wash you clean, you will find what every seeker has ever sought.

What’s that? I asked.

The joy of arriving home to your authentic self, raw and vulnerable, surrendered in the crucible where you have been made whole. The living pulse of the natural world waiting to receive the gifts you were born to share. The radiance and power of ten thousand suns warming and opening your tender heart, where choosing love is the question and always the answer.

 Here, she said, placing the first green seeds of renewal and faith in my open palm. Now plant these.

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