The sun came out last week a couple times, and again this week. And it warmed up, too. Let me tell you, that makes all the difference. I’m like Superman without super powers. I’m solar powered, but I can’t fly, lift crazy stuff or shoot lasers out of my eyes. While bullets don’t bounce off me, subtle hints and emotional cues do, but I don’t think that’s a super power. Anyway, I’m solar powered.
I’ve been a little surprised over the last couple years how much the weather affects me. You’d think growing up in the wintery northern midwest that I’d be used to dismal, depressing, hopeless winters. But they’ve really taken it out of me lately.
However, the sun has provided the external metaphor my soul needed to reset my internal spiritual mojo. That’s not the entire story, but I am doing a lot better, and it is definitely related to the return of the sun.
Narnya has pre-Islamic Zoroastrian roots. I’m beginning to think the Zoroastrians had it right by celebrating New Year in the spring. It’s falsely assumed that they worshiped fire, but in fact they worshiped a single deity that was most revealed in fire. They marked new year with a holiday called Nov Rus, still the central holiday in several countries in this part of the world. Nov Rus is associated with the spring equinox. It’s preceded by four special Tuesdays, each associated with the four elements: Water Tuesday, Fire Tuesday, Wind Tuesday and Earth Tuesday. And the holiday itself is a celebration of new life, the end of winter, and new beginning.
I once had a student who told me that they celebrate new year in the spring, but we do it in the middle of winter, and nothing changes. “How,” he asked, “can you celebrate a new beginning in the middle of winter?” Three winters in, and I think he has it right. Here, in Narnya, it’s harder to insulate yourself from the winter. Winter consistently freezes your pipes and takes your water. It slows maintenance and ensures periods without gas, and therefore without heat. It downs powerlines and steals your electricity and gives no guarantee of when it will return. Winter here cannot be completely hidden from. To use Emerson’s words, it steals away your vital heat. And celebrating the death of winter and the birth of spring is something I can get behind – body, soul and spirit.
Our family and our team are slowly beginning to sanctify this holiday. Missiologically, this is called ‘engaging redemptive analogies’. Each week we celebrate how Christ is the fulfillment of that particular element’s symbology, meditating on Scriptures that say as much, and praying those Scriptures into our bones, and into the hearts of our local friends. I’m even beginning to consider marrying this holiday to Easter for as long as we live here. Nov Rus anchors people in the seasonal rhythms and raw elementality of the created world (i.e. incarnation) and in the hope for and celebration of new life (i.e. resurrection). It can, like Advent before Christmas, provide for us (and, perhaps, for local saints) four weeks to prepare our imaginations to truly celebrate Christ as “all in all”, and as the fulfillment of our hope and of all the symbols and shadows that point to him, and it can help us use our embodied vulnerability to the weather and the yearly rhythms to bring our whole, embodied personalities to bear on celebrating the end of the old world and the beginning of the new in the death and resurrection of the King.
Anyway, that’s what I’m thinking.