March is the month I struggle with in Maine. One friend tells me she never makes decisions in January, and more than one of us, I'm sure, have family members who threaten to go to bed for the entire month of February - just call "uncle!" and stay under the covers until the worst of the cold is over. But for me it's March, a month that marks full spring every where else I've lived, but in Maine is only the beginning of the season of "unlocking" as Bill Rixon has taught me. I tend to look at day after day of gray sky and struggle not to lock the door of my house and mind.
This year I've found a way around the gray days of March - this year in worship all the craziest, most fun, most topsy-turvy celebrations fall in March, and we're honoring three of them: Mardi Gras, Purim and Ostara. This is what I call fun! Enough fun to chase my own worst moods away, and instead to share a spirit of joy-filled good fun with everyone around me.
These celebrations are always about letting go: letting go of our own egos, our typical expectations, our projections of who we are and who we want others to be...even letting go of our relationship with the sacred for just a moment, and letting some new air and ideas in there. We can trust that what is divine knows how to find us again....As one Rabbi says, this can be a terrifying time of year for some folks. While children rejoice in the silly masks, stories, treats and chances to make music and then make noise, many adults would rather face the somber acts of contrition and forgiveness at Yom Kippur than let go of their egos and inhibitions at Purim!
It's good for us. If you're at all like me, and the gray skies and cold temperatures in combination with the demands of succeeding at work and family get you down right about this time of year, take a moment to laugh at yourself. If you need inspiration go read a Calvin & Hobbes cartoon, or ask your grandchild to tell you a joke...Maddie's favorite is this: "Mom, a man walked into a bar...Ouch!"....Paint a bright picture and don't worry about anything beyond how good it feels to put the scrumptious colors on the white paper. And, of course, call your favorite laughing partner - child, spouse, parent or friend - and let them in on your moments of joy.
Of interest to me as well is what none of these celebrations let go of: They're all interested in giving to others even as they celebrate - wildly - the abundance that any one person or family enjoys. As we gather for worship and religious education that's full of fun, our church continues to give in myriad ways. We minister to couples getting married and their interfaith families. We give care to people who are grieving, and host memorial services and minister at graveside services when the family does not have another religious community to go to. We make sure people have enough oil to heat their homes as the cold continues. We pay for medicines and for rent. We dish out food and smiles at the soup kitchen. We organize to bring summer camp to children who can't afford it. We support partnerships that concentrate on the civil and legal freedoms of all people. We make sure our elders have someone to talk to, and warm meals to enjoy. We help parent answer their children's big questions in ways that are life-affirming and recognize the worth and dignity of people with varied religious beliefs...We are giving so much, day in and day out - I hope you feel it, know it, and participate in it. In joy and in sorrow, in good times and in hard times, this is a community, and an organization, worth your full support.
See you Sunday!