A Flower Opens

By Ingrid Van Mater

A simple inscription on a piece of old Chinese porcelain reads: "The flower opens, and lo! another year." Reflecting on this in one of his journals, Thoreau writes: "How many times have the flowers opened and a new year begun . . . How old is spring, a phenomenon still so fresh!" How old indeed? Year after year we look forward to its arrival, for the impulse is deeply felt. From far past ages this season has been held sacred, for the transition from darkness and cold to the incoming tide of light and warmth and joy evokes a birth in us, a spiritual renewal.

When we consider the antiquity of our earth, and particularly of the civilizations that stretch further back than the mind dare contemplate, think of the countless springs that have been witnessed as the planet makes its yearly circling round the sun. Is it not amazing that always the same freshness, the same pristine quality, accompanies this season? What could this vibrant element be but the divine force that animates all things, the sovereignty of the spirit, without which there would be no life at all? This divine aspect draws everything into a harmonious whole and gives to each event and entity an equal place in the cosmos.

"The flower opens, and lo! another year" -- does this not epitomize spring? It is all so familiar, such a common occurrence, yet cosmic in its impact. The flower is the crown of the plant's growth, yet can we say that all this extravagant beauty is created merely to give life away in the bearing of seed? We need but think how necessary flowers are to our well being, not only in practical ways, but to uplift and nourish the soul. What greater proof of divinity than these brave messengers from nature's finer worlds, masterpieces of color, form, fragrance, and precision of design; simple in basic plan, yet infinite in variation. The marvel of flowers alone keeps alive one's sense of wonder. Tennyson believed that if he could understand what a flower is, "root and all, and all in all," he would know what God and man is.

Beyond springtime's pageantry and the thrill of life reborn lies the thought of intelligent forces behind the scenes, causing the seasons in their ordered sequence to express the essence of what they are with unfailing consistency. Every time of year has its beauty, its mystery. Not only do the seasons have their counterpart in the human life cycle and in the cycle of each day, but the qualities they manifest are part of our own inner being. Youth and adolescence belong to spring; adulthood to the teeming life of summer; the mellow wisdom of the older years to the ripeness and maturity of autumn which, as the cycle progresses, leads to an indrawing of consciousness comparable to the trees' withdrawal of sap in winter. In the day's unfolding there is a close connection between dawn and spring, noon and summer, twilight and autumn, night and winter. Especially suggestive is the association between dawn and spring, for the birth of each day brings with it fresh opportunity to start anew. It is a time most mystical and peaceful when the light of early morning dispels the darkness.

Between man and nature is an eternal alliance. What we learn from close observation is that we have endless regions of spiritual wonder yet to be explored within ourselves. Untold grandeur is there -- the dawns and twilights are in us, the vibrancy of spring, the glory of suns. Each time we respond to higher influences we are by so much awakening those depths within, for the vitalizing force of divinity is ever present, the promise of spring is eternal in the human heart. Each lifetime is like the opening of a flower.

(From Sunrise magazine, April/May 2004; copyright © 2004 Theosophical University Press)

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