NEW BEGINNINGS Spring has come at last, and after the cold dark time of winter, a time of new beginnings. Indeed it is at this time that Mother Earth matches the fire of the Sun with her own fire… A fire that burns as bright and hot, as the yellow and red of the Sun, but Her fire is green, the color of life itself. It is a time of great unbridled joy, a time when life is not content to sit silent. But rather she bullies and pushes her way past the last frosts of winter and into the warmth of summer. She is alive. Everywhere you look life and change fill your eyes, if it is not the budding fruit tree’s whispering of fall’s promise, or the corn and soy beans standing up in neat rows waiting to be counted by the anxious farmers. Or is it for you and me that just over there that we can see a lake filled with lily’s triumphant spring blossoms. Blossoms, blossoms whispering “bring the canoe, glide within my beauty, I will renew you”. Flower’s everywhere, from pansy’s to tulip’s all of them led by the tiny spring crocuses only to be pushed aside by the daffodils. And then there are those daffodils! William Wordsworth said of the golden daffodil in his poem apply named “daffodil”, I wandered lonely as a cloud That floats on high o’er vales and hills, When all at once I saw a crowd, A host, of golden daffodils, Beside the lake, beneath the trees, Fluttering and dancing in the breeze. Continuous as the stars that shine And twinkle on the Milky Way, They stretch in never ending line Along the margin of a bay, Ten thousand I saw at a glance, Tossing their heads in spritely dance. Spring, you just got to love it… it’s all about beginnings… new beginnings. Yes the connection we have with spring runs to the very heart of our being. Poets have written volumes about spring, and composers have arraigned beautiful music trying to capture just this moment, this springtime. It’s easy to believe that it has always been so, that we humankind have always celebrated this time of the year, and indeed we have. Where did it all start? One beginning can found in the Celtic fire festival of Beltane, let me take you for just a moment back… way back. It is at the end of the time called shoots-show on the Celtic calendar, and the beginning of the bright time, the 1st of May. A time filled with histories new beginnings. It was a time of storytelling, a time of interactive storytelling. For unlike today, the story’s became something more… they became a history of the tribe, an oral celebration wherein each member of these early communities had their own part to play. Yes while it was the Celtic Shaman or Bard who led in the telling of the story it was this joined act of storytelling by the whole community that made the real magic of spring happen. And so today let you and I begin by remembering and retelling our story of springs new beginnings. Winter has been long and hard, the snows deep. Our tribe has suffered many losses during this time, valued members of our community have crossed the vale and are now resting in the Summerland and we miss their council. The food we had gathered to see us through the Winter is nearly gone and it has only been in the last Moon phase that we have been able to go into the woods, bogs and fields and begin gathering mushrooms, spring greens and the like. With the Ice off the lakes our fisherman are again taking out the boats, and by the Goddess Boand’s hand the catch is getting better. And now today at long last Beltane has arrived! It is time for everything and everyone to begin anew! The crop’s we have just planted have begun to sprout! Our animals are beginning to bare their young, and even now we see many young ones in field and heath. The young people, our young people left out at midnight last and have gathered the flowers and placed them among us. They are the messengers of renewal and our hope for abundance. Quickly, don the flowers, wear them in your hair, pin them to your cloak. Extinguish the hearth fires; we relight them tonight from the need-fire! Our animals go first between the two BAL fires, passing thru the smoke of the Rowan, magic tree of protection and Birch, the tree of new beginnings! Look now closely for in the smoke and flame, you can see the Green Prince jumping the fire, He and our Lady have started the dance! And now we go dancing between the fires celebrating a time and new beginning in this place, our home! Yes, the ancient one’s, they knew about new beginnings, indeed they believed in the VERY importance of new beginnings. Without spring, the tribe would have perished. No animals would have been born, and seeds would have lain dormant. But by the warmth of the sun, everything changed, animals were born and seeds sprouted and the tribe prospered. Each year was a spiritual new beginning made real, and that cycle has continued throughout all of our time. For this time of the year throughout history has been the ferment, the spark and the flame of new beginnings. Let us pull the curtain of our imagination closed on those Beltane fires… and open the door to another new beginning… There was a time, when we the worker’s were glad for, indeed we needed, strong rulers. They raised up armies to protect workers their homes and families. The woods were full of wild beasts, bear and wolves ruled the countryside. And other tribes, other peoples they wanted what little we had. But now alliances have been made between rulers, and these rulers themselves become what they were oath- sworn to protect us from. They are now the ones who would steal our homes, families and even our lives. They are the bear and the wolves they hunt in packs and would kill us all. It is time for a new beginning! What say you? We are sleeping together in a volcano… a wind of revolution blows; the storm is on the horizon. Who has not heard the news from across the channel? The workers can now vote! They have a voice! And with that vote comes the rise of this new democracy! It’s a new beginning, a time of sovereignty for the people. What say you! In the streets, the city square and the pub, people are moving if one voice is silenced, two voices rise up! We are all hungry, our families suffer. The work of our hands is taken from us, the clothes on our back are striped from us, and we are removed from our homes… what say you? Grab your coat and bring your drum together each shall bring a new beginning. Revolution. The European revolutions of 1848 were also known as the springtime of the peoples and were a series of political upheavals that started in France and spread across the whole of Europe. And before the revolutions ended some 13 countries were involved. While historians will note that most of these uprisings of the people were put down quickly, all agree that the long term effects, of this Spring of Nations, this springtime of the peoples, were far reaching. Truly a time of new beginnings. The social order was forever changed. No longer would peasant and worker suffer quietly, but rather they would demand increasingly more justice, and more freedom. And with each passing spring they voice grew louder. Just as the ancients leaped the Beltane fire and the early 19th century workers took to the streets for revolution, our need for new beginnings today remains strong. Pull the door closed on revolutions new beginning, wait, I think we would be wise to leave that door open just a little. But now let me share one final story, of a new beginning, a story that begins in California… My new beginning too, came in the spring. I suppose I had been working up to this new beginning my whole life, I had been taken as a very young boy a baby from my birth family and moved from New Jersey to California. And in California I suffered under a very hard childhood, abuse both mentally, physically happened to me almost daily. When you are young you have very few options. I had tried running away and was brought back only to suffer even more abuse. So I withdrew into my mind, it was there that I was safe. I created a world filled with all kinds of happy kind people and places. I was not the King I was just one of people. I could see myself, shy standing alone watching, and that was enough, just to be there. And it was there that I spent much of my childhood. I could get so far into my world I that I would not feel the physical abuse. The beatings finally stopped when Mary broke her hand trying to make me cry. The morning I left was not planned, there was no money saved, no packing done, it just happened… my new beginning. The decision to leave almost was not mine to make it’s as if it was made for me. I just had to move my feet. I left with the clothes on my back not even a jacket or hat. I had a watch, which I would soon pawn. And five dollars, I did not even take my wallet; because I was afraid I would be caught and sent back like I had been when I was young. This would prove to be a beginning I could not turn back from. Hitchhiking, I got a ride quickly to Sacramento. But there it seemed was the end, hours went by and then by some kind of magic I did not understand a young man, a shaved headed Krishna devotee, appeared in bright orange robes standing next to me, he was without a doubt the strangest person I had ever seen, and I knew I would never get a ride with him next to me. So I tried to get away from him, I would move but he would follow, I would move again and he would follow again! More hours went by… finally a guy stopped and asked if I could drive a car, saying yes, he asked if I would drive to Oregon. At last my beginning was beginning! My new Krishna companion begged me to take him along. I did. As soon as he got in the car he made an altar on the dashboard with three pictures of his deities. And then he really thanked me by chanting for hours on end, mile after mile. Hari Krishna, Hari Krishna Krishna Krishna Hari Hari Hari Rama Hari Rama Rama Rama Hari Hari I still can hear him. I lost him someplace in far northern California. I slipped my five dollars into his backpack first, and I really do hope he has achieved nirvana. Somewhere in the Oregon Dunes area my driving assignment, ride ended. My benefactor pointed me to the road north. I began to walk. It was I knew, exactly where I was meant to be. Had one car pull to the side of the road and ask me if I needed a ride. I said no. I stopped walking and sat on the beach and as the sunset far out over the ocean, I felt the night drop like a blanket over me. I was not afraid, I had up to that night never been camping, and never been alone on the beach or in the woods, but I was not afraid. And that night as I sat on that beach just watching the waves come in and the sun disappear it was as is if somebody cared about me at last and was washing all that I had suffered away. And later when I lay down on the forest floor, that same someone made sure that it was as soft as any bed. With the stars and the moon watching over me I slept like a newborn babe. New beginnings, jumping the Beltane fire. New beginnings, marching with your brothers and sisters for change. New beginnings, happening in quite moments of our own soul. What new beginning waits in your life? Will you choose to dance between the fires this May Day? And celebrate the return of the Green? Or will you join in the fight for justice? Standing with those who are marginalized, with those who are denied because of language they speak or the color of their skin? Those who made to suffer simply because of who they love? Or will your new beginning come in the comfort found under a moonlit sky within alone in the night. Or will it be instead brought to you this May Day on the scent of spring flowers, of daffodils. Peace and Blessed Be Thank you The time is now!