Moving to Sweden as an exchange student in 1969-70 (oooh, so long ago) was a game changer for me. At that point, it was a mostly mono-culture with traditions that went back hundreds of years. I was astonished and delighted. It was the start of my love affair with sociology and anthropology. It was (although I didn’t realize it then) an introduction to Earth-based traditions. And it was the beginning of life-long relationships that would transform how I thought of myself and how I had friends. (and how i would spend my summer vacations!)
So, yep, I liked it. Hurrah for Rotary and all the wonderful things they do. Their International Exchange Program is just one of their many world-changing programs.
I’d never lived someplace where the weather was such a force in the social fabric of the country. Christmas and Mid-Winter are dark, for years, people worried that spring would never return… fears left over from the ice ages… and so they would light its way back. Spring comes late, and in a rush. Around April 30, people would defy the usually still frigid temps and burn off the fields to ready them for planting. They took off winter clothes (and in some cases burnt them, i can only imagine that this piece has something to do with bug infestations, it’s much more romantic in theory!) and put on their spring clothes. Calling Spring Weather. Today, towns still have Valborgmassoafton fires. The name is linked to a German Saint, but those fires are far more primal!
When I tied the date together with the gathering and distributing of lilies of the valley during my youth … I began to understand the pattern. To this day, my spirit is lifted by this marking, whether I’m lighting fires and burning off restrictions as I have so often done, or peering into a neighbor’s backyard to see whether the white flowers are yet blooming. For me, now it’s Spring! Up until now the Earth has been cooking things underground, now they’re becoming visible. You and I have been focusing on Peace for 4 months now. It’s time to bring our work out into the open. And indeed, just as we’ve been working it, it’s been working us. Peace is changing our lives, even as we work to change and soften the world. Spring! Peace! Merry May! Let us Dance! (And look at Nanso’s Peace wreath, isn’t it a beauty?)