The Divine Spring

“When the winds blow severely, rains fall fiercely, the lightning flashes, the thunder roars, the bold descends and storms of trial become severe, grieve not; for after this storm, verily, the divine spring will arrive, the hills and fields will become verdant, the expanses of grain will joyfully wave, the earth will become covered with blossoms, the trees will be clothed with green garments and adorned with blossoms and fruits. Thus blessings become manifest in all countries. These favors are results of those storms and hurricanes.” ~ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

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There is a shade of green that I love the most.

It is a tender green. It is a happy and cheerful green. Fresh from Nature’s own palette, it is the dewy and velvety green of early, young leaves. It is a green so light and demure. Refined and translucent. Pure and childlike. Fragile almost.

It is a dazzling green found only upon Spring’s awakening. It is the first colour of life to stand out against a stark and subdued landscape. Like droplets of paint on a bare canvas. It can be seen springing up in the first blade of grass that worms its way out from the earth.

It is the clumps of spongy, moist moss. It is the young maple and oak leaves that clothe the stark branches anew.

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This spectacular colour stays with us for a few radiant short weeks upon its birth before it matures and takes on a darker, more solid mien.

The trees in Finland are at this very moment dripping with this most fantastic hue. The forest is aglow in this sublime green. Luminous, dappled leaves rustling against a peerless blue sky.

We live close to the sea right next to a sprawling nature reserve. I spend a lot of my free time in these woods. With every step I take, I leave the clamour of the world behind. I drop the load of stones and pebbles that have accumulated in my heart. The knots of the mind start to untangle.

My burden lightens considerably along the way. A hundred things that shout for attention, somehow seem to diminish in importance when I take a good long walk in the woods.

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These woods disarm me. The aspen, the silver birches, spruce and pine – my quiet companions along the way. My conscience is sharpened in the prevailing peace. The ego loosens its grip. How good it is to stay close to the very earth our early ancestors must have spent time listening to.

It has taught me that sometimes speaking my mind is a hollow victory if it means putting someone else down. No matter how justified. For to offend a heart is not something to be proud of. From these ancient trees, I have learnt to stand tall. Undismayed and unperturbed. And in the safety of the woods, forgiveness becomes a quiet surrender.

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The forest and the trees have now become familiar landmarks on my daily walks. This patch of earth and the many dirt tracks and rocky shoreline hold a special significance for me. For it was to these woods that I went to when I was recovering from chemotherapy three years ago. Frail, weak and broken, I somehow made my way slowly into the woods.

Unlike the noble Thoreau, so full of brave, high-minded ideals when he ventured onto Walden Pond to live simply, I went to the woods because I simply and desperately needed to live.

Desperate “to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.” How humbling it is to realise that the company of trees taught me “to put to rout all that was not life.”

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The gracious trees shared their strength and life with me. For to recognise the powerful force that has kept the old stoic spruce, tall and straight for the last century is to partake of it. Many times, I had silently walked under its dark foliage just to press my palm upon its hardened, crusted bark. Just to reverently touch life. Just to feel the force of such stillness.

Some of my most significant moments and thoughts on life have taken place in these sacred woods.

If Nature is a reflection of our own reality, the lessons we may learn just from quietly observing the trees, the cycle of life and the seasons’ change are myriad.

A Leaf in Springtime was born from these moments. A Leaf whose very aliveness and fading away, every movement and stillness are governed by the Divine Hand.

And each moment of Awakening and thankfulness is a moment of Divine Springtime.

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* I met this bunch of school kids just yesterday morning out on a field trip in the woods with their teacher. Finnish children are taught from a young age to show deep reverence and silence when they are out in the nature. But these bubbly youngsters couldn’t resist turning around and giving me a shot of exuberant cheers when they realised I was training the camera on them. After that spontaneous salution of peace, they went on their merry way – quietly in the woods. They made my day.

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