Tu Bishvat - allowing for regrowth

It seems strange after a weekend of snow, but the kabbalists believed that Tu Bishvat (tonight and tomorrow - the 'birthday' of the trees, from when tithes etc. were calculated), marks the start of spring, as it is the day on which sap begins to rise in the trees.
I was never aware of being affected by the darkness of winter until I spent a year studying and living in Sweden. I wasn't particularly sad in winter, which was darker and colder than any I had know before, but I was aware around March/April time of a sort of euphoria and excitement at the sun being present on my morning and afternoon walks to and from school. Winter can be a time of retreat for many of us - staying indoors, disappearing, perhaps, more into ourselves as the darkness advances.
So maybe it is helpful to mark the rising of the sap around us, and experience the rising of spring in our own selves. As we experience the reawakening of the world around us, it is an opportunity to rededicate our energies to the places we wish to send them, as the sap begins to rise through our fingers and toes, where do we want to send that energy in the world? What do we want to make of ourselves, and of the world around us. We re-emerge from the cave of winter, and are enlivened by the sun, and the regrowth the world offers us year after year.
Rosh Hashanah is by no means the only opportunity for reflection, change and personal growth in the Jewish calendar, and this relatively modest festival not only does that, but ties us into the natural cycles we experience - sometimes without realising it. Of course as a festival of the trees, it is also a reminder of our connections to nature, and our need for it. In our reawakening, let us remember our responsibilities not only to our own growth, but the continued growth and development of the world around us, particularly the natural world.


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