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Friday's Inspiration Weekly
Spring Forward

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All that happens is as usual and familiar as the rose in spring and the crop in summer.
For lo! ’t is Spring! Winter has passed with its sad funeral train, And Love revives again.
Arrrgh! I have Spring Fever! I want to get out there!!!

Entrée:  Sweet Spring Dreams by Nancy Bishop
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"Reach high, for stars lie hidden in your soul. Dream deep, for every dream precedes the goal."

The days are getting longer now and the sun sits higher in the sky. The sugar maples stretch after a long cold winter. Soon their sweet sap will run; the fires will be lit at maple sugarhouses for all night boiling vigils. The fires must be continually stoked, babied and watched. Dreams are cooking. You can see the evidence as white smoke billows out from the rooftops of maple sugarhouses and sweet steam rises filling the air. The farmer's dream is to boil the sap collected from the maple tree into maple syrup in a span of 4 to 6 weeks.

If you ever visit a sugarhouse during boiling season I think you will find a happy crew of farmers, neighbors and friends talking about the past winter and making predictions for this year's maple season. People support one another during the long boiling time while the dream is cooking. Making maple syrup is not a venture "to go alone" as the process is demanding. Temperatures have to be watched, the fires can't go out and every year the season depends on just the right weather conditions. The farmer's job is to be ready with lines tapped into the sugar maples, enough wood to keep the evaporator boiling the sap and good company with people who share their passion. In the end, the farmer's dream of making maple syrup will coming pouring down on our pancakes and waffles.

We can learn a lot from the maple sugar farmer about cooking dreams. Like the farmer, if we are going to realize our dreams, we must make them a priority. We need to stay focused by keeping our attention on the end result; the maple syrup. Always share the boil time with other passionate dreamers. It makes the eventual obstacles and distractions easier to overcome and passion is contagious. Most of all be flexible; the weather isn't always predictable. Just as the farmer has modernized the process of collecting and boiling sap to be more efficient, we may need to upgrade and look for additional tools and resources to make our dreams a reality.

Remember some dreams, like maple syrup, come with an expiration date. If we don't do something about them they will eventually evaporate in the bucket.

About the author:

Nancy Bishop is a Life Coach, Writer and Speaker. She blends her passion for tea with life coaching to help busy women catch their breath and connect with their heart to restore balance naturally. For more information, or, to subscribe to her free monthly newsletter, visit her website at

Main Course: Out There
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I love the outdoors. I cannot wait to take some time to go camping - to get Out There. Living in the Northwestern US is more than just a blessing for me - it is a privilege. There, just beyond my window, lies the miraculous beauty of Nature. At times, for me, it is like standing outside a church and watching the parishioners within. They are having a great time in there (outdoors), and I am... Stuck, here (indoors). But not for long.

Mahatma Gandhi said, "There is a soul force in the universe, which, if we permit it, will flow through us and produce miraculous results." It is difficult for me to feel that force while being an adventurous Sagittarian, stuck indoors through a dreary Northwest winter. So, bring it on, Spring. I am ready to feel the force, and I know those miraculous results are just Out There, waiting for me to discover them.

I dream of times I have walked through the forests and rested beside the creeks. I long for sunsets as the sea pounds the shores and  the birds soar the boundless skies. I remember what it is like to wrestle a fish to shore, already planning the meal that I will make of it. I cherish the times I have watched the comets in their stupendous dances around the Sun, and have seen meteors streak through the bejeweled heavens. I look, Out There, and I can't see an end to the Universe. I am filled with wonder by every part of it and every thing in it.

Nature is chock-full of lessons, truly religious lessons, for the thoughtful and contemplative mind. The matter of the Universe is driven and directed by natural forces, it would seem. In much the same manner, human history seems to be driven and directed by the forces of human spirit.

Yet, above the chaos of daily experience lies the Beauty of the Eternal Cosmos, that Great Record Book of the Creator and His creation. Nature is the Old Testament of this Record, thick with eternal truths beneath our feet, and glittering with everlasting glories over our heads. Humanity is the New Testament from an Infinite God, each day revealing a new page as Time turns over the leaves. Nature is God's prose, and Humanity is His poetry.

It is not chance, nor it is fate, but a great and providential Plan that has placed me upon this earth, at this time, and in this very place. It is that Plan which feeds everything around me with everlasting life, and prepares the lessons I am to learn. It is the cycle of birth, death and renewal, evidenced by the seasons, that reminds me just how vital I am to that Plan, and how vital that Plan is to my happiness.

It is, soon, time for me to join the congregation of Nature, and again experience the prayers and hymns of the mountains and the forests. It cannot come soon enough that might I step out of this building made with earthly hands, and into the Grand Construct - Created, not with hands, but with only a Grand Word. I have waited long enough to worship and sing the praise of our Infinite Parent, the just, wise and beneficent, the perfect and holy Builder of all that Is. I am ready to get Out There.

O Thou, Who hast created the beasts of the field and the birds of the air, let me soon walk in Thy great vaulted Cathedral of Nature, that I may admire Thy wisdom, strength and beauty. Help me, Father, that I might learn the Grand Lessons which Nature has to teach me, that I may never lose faith in Thy goodness. May I be ever thankful for the abundance of Thy Creation that is showered upon me. Amen, and amen.

Michael Rawls, Friday's Inspiration © 2003

Second Helping: Celebrate Spring by Lorraine Aho
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Spring is the season of rebirth and renewal, so it should be no wonder that we celebrate so many happy occasions during this time of year: Buddha's birthday, Islamic New Year, the liberation of the Jews from Egyptian oppression (Passover), the resurrection of Christ (Easter) - all are the happiest of holidays and pivotal points of these major religious traditions.

Most major world religions celebrate spring as the true New Year. In China, April 4 is the observance of Ching Ming ("Clear and Bright"), or Grave-Sweeping Day. The Ching Ming observance may have been the very first religious festival in China as ancestor worship is the only native Chinese religion.

Ching Ming rituals include weeding of the gravesites, cleaning of the headstone, lighting incense and replacing wilted flowers with fresh ones. Food is often placed in front of the headstone as an offering to the spirits of the deceased and may include a steamed whole chicken, hard-boiled eggs, and dim sum pastries. In addition, three sets of chopsticks and three Chinese wine cups are arranged above the food and closest to the headstone.

The head of the household bows three times with the wine cup in hand and then pours the wine on the ground just in front of the headstone. This ritual is repeated three times. Each member of the family comes in front of the headstone and bows three times with the right fist held cupped in the left hand. Some families will then eat the food together there at the grave, similar to having a picnic with their deceased relatives. It is said to bring good luck to eat the food that was offered to the deceased.

This date is also indicated on traditional Japanese calendars, where their culture has a similar observance and in Korea, the observance is known as Chu Sook.

In Hindu countries, the new year festival or Ugadi comes close on the heels of Holi (a combination of Purim and Carnivale). While the strong colors of Holi start fading away, the freshness of spring lingers on with sprightliness all around. The "flame of the forest" (tree with bright red flowers) is in full bloom signifying an affluent season.

The onset of spring also marks the earth's rebirth with plants acquiring new life, shoots and leaves. Spring is considered the first season of the year heralding a new year and a new beginning. It is believed that the creator of the Hindu pantheon Lord Brahma started creation on this day - Chaitra suddha padhyami or the Ugadi day. Also the great Indian mathematician Bhaskaracharya's calculations proclaimed the Ugadi day from the sunrise on as the beginning of the new year, new month and new day.

The Baha'i faith celebrates Ridvan, or "The Most Great Festival and King of Festivals" on April 21. It is a 12-day celebration that recalls the time when Baha'u'llah declared that he was the prophet predicted by the Bab. It is the most holy time of the Baha'i year.

The Jewish spring holiday of Passover was originally two festivals at the same time of year. Passover which had reference to the protection of the flocks, and Unleavened Bread which made a commitment of trust in God for the next year's harvest. Pesah (Passover) also commemorates God protecting the enslaved Jews in Egypt from the last plague - the angel of death. It is the start of the yearly calendar and is a time of hope and rebirth. Passover today is celebrated by a Seder ceremony, including reflections on the final redemption and a place at the table for Elijah, the herald of the messiah. It is a festival of personal liberation and is marked with a ritual 'spring' cleaning of the home. The Seder plate includes parsley in salt water, bitter herbs, spices, a shank bone and an egg.

Christians celebrate their most joyful season of the year with Easter. Lent, the season of penance and commitment concludes with Holy Week, the week ending with Easter Sunday. Maundy Thursday is when the ritual of The Last Supper is remembered; it is a somber occasion commemorating the betrayal of Jesus by Judas. Good Friday, the day of Jesus' crucifixion, is a day of mourning and reflection and Holy Saturday is a day of waiting with faith but no knowledge. Sunrise on Easter Sunday is the most joyous celebration of the year, commemorating the empty tomb and the resurrection of Christ. It is a holiday filled with loud, triumphant music, flowers and feasting with family and friends.

The word "Easter" is derived from Eastre, or Eostre, the Anglo-Saxon Goddess of spring and dawn. There also is some historical connection existing between the words "Easter" and "East," where the sun rises. The festival of Eostre was celebrated on the day of the Vernal Equinox (spring). Traditions associated with the festival of the Teutonic fertility Goddess survive in the Easter rabbit and colored eggs, and it is no wonder that Easter and estrous (fertility) have a similar root word.

Spring Myths
Greek myth tells of Demeter, the goddess of the earth, and her daughter, Persephone. Pluto, the ruler of the underworld, abducted the younger goddess and her absence caused Demeter such grief that she brought about a famine on earth through the neglect and failure of crops. Pluto was therefore moved to restore Persephone to her mother, but because she had eaten food in the underworld she was bound to return to Pluto for as many months of each year as there were seeds of the pomegranate caught in her mouth. In joy at Persephone's annual return in spring, the Demeter brings forth her fruits and flowers to the earth.

Of the same essential pattern of sacrifice, grieving and rebirth that herald the end of winter and the beginning of spring is the Egyptian myth of Osiris, who is sent to the underworld and is brought back to life by his wife, Isis. In Scandinavia, it is the goddess Freya who gives life to her son, Baldur, and in ancient Iran, it was Fatima and her son Husain. In Sumeria, it was Inanna and her consort, Tammuz. The common elements in all these stories are so apparent that one may think of them as a single drama performed again and again by different actors.

Spring Traditions
Many of the customs and ceremonies of the Christian Easter resemble these former traditions. Catholic Doctrine paralleled the pagan death and resurrection myths of the gods with the story of Christ's crucifixion and Ascension. Christ rises from the dead with the ascending sun at the time of the Vernal Equinox when plant life and all forms of vegetation appear again on the Earth, and is celebrated with the same customs as that of the ancient rites namely, rabbits and colored eggs!

The Easter egg takes us back to some of the oldest known civilizations on earth where the symbol of an egg played an important part in mythical accounts of the creation of the world. Long before the Christian era, eggs were regarded as symbols of continuing life and resurrection. The ancient Persians and Greeks exchanged them at their spring festivals when all things in nature revived after the winter. The custom of coloring eggs at Easter continued from paganism with only a change of dedication. Scarlet eggs were given in the spring by pagan peoples centuries before the birth of Christ, red being a symbol of lifeblood and fertility.

About the Easter Bunny - The hare is the true Easter beast, not the rabbit. Hares were sacred to the Spring-Goddess, Eostre and were sacrificed to her. The hare was an emblem of fertility, renewal, and return of spring.

Spring Astrology
Aries (March 19 - April 18) is the first Sign of the Zodiac, and that's pretty much how those born under this Sign see themselves: first. Arians are the leaders of the pack, first in line to get things going. The leadership displayed by Arians is most impressive; so don't be surprised if they can rally the troops against seemingly insurmountable odds -- they have that kind of personal magnetism. Arians don't shy away from new ground, either. Those born under this Sign are often called the pioneers of the Zodiac, and it's their fearless trek into the unknown, which often wins the day. Arians are a bundle of energy and dynamism and the Pied Piper of their people. The dawning of a new day, and all its possibilities, is pure bliss to an Arian.

About the author:

Lorraine is the founder and CEO of - "for the art and soul of your home."® - She enjoys helping people create sacred spaces in their homes with style and panáche, by providing professional advice and a broad variety of quality home decorating products. Lorraine describes herself as 'a practical romantic,' and lives with her silly romantic husband and two cats in Sonoma, California. (I have also learned that she is expecting a baby!) To learn about incorporating the sacred into your home and in your life, visit Sacred or give Lorraine a call at (888)599-4106

Soup to Nuts: From the feedback button
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Deano166 visited and wrote, "I made an interesting discovery this week. At the top of your website is a picture of leaves and rocks and stuff. I hovered my mouse over the picture, quite by accident, and I saw the words I keep you in my thoughts, always pop up. What's that about?"

That has actually been there from the beginning (1999), along with the phrase "good sense and inspiring thoughts." The purpose of both of these phrases is to remind me that my success as an individual soul depends heavily upon my thoughtfulness and consideration of others. If I wish to be successful in what I am doing with my life, I felt it necessary that I have a modicum of good sense, and that I be inspired by that which is practical and useful. There you have it; no mystery at all, really.

Many of the links (like those that are underlined on this page) have an explanation that goes with them, called an HTML "title," and most of the pictures and other graphics on the website have an HTML "alt" alternate text graphic that explains them in some way. There are many pleasant surprises hidden on the site, just like the one you found. Check out the Freedom Ribbon, next to the top banner on the welcome page (upper left corner, looks like a US flag) - hover your mouse over that picture, and see what happens!

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