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Begin Afresh

Do you take any notice of nature? On your way here to the Abbey church what trees did you pass? Did you see any birds? Were there any plants?

If your answer to that question is a firm “no: I was too busy chatting to my friends or thinking about my Physics test, or thinking about my lunch,” then I can’t say I blame you: when I was at school I didn’t think much if at all about the natural world. I think that often, as we get older, we notice these things more.

There's also the seasons, of course. Again, I don’t think I paid much attention to the changing seasons when I was younger, although I can remember that it often seemed to snow around my birthday in February. What I’ve noticed as I’ve got older though, is that I’m much more aware of the seasons, in particular the winters, which as you get older seem to go on longer and longer.

So when I see and feel the first glimpses of Spring, such as blossom on trees, it is hugely uplifting. I saw a post a couple of days ago that said that today it will be light until 6pm and will still be light at 6pm until October 29th, which is a really heartening thought. We’ve made it through another winter!

As we see nature in a state of rebirth in Spring we can also think about our own development, and see Spring as a metaphor for our own growth.

The poet Philip Larkin encapsulates this idea very well in his short poem The Trees:

The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.

Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too.
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.

Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

As the trees come into leaf and the weather gets warmer, we can be inspired by this change to renew our efforts to try new things, or to try old things again but with more determination to be successful. These things might be, for example, an instrument we’ve given up on; a subject or course of study we’ve got bored by; or even a relationship we’ve neglected, to give just a few examples.

'Last year is dead. Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.'