The beginning of spring is a time to think about renewal. In our quest for material abundance and comfort, this is a time to pause and put our quest in context.
Most prominently at this time of year, March madness is upon us. No, not the budget battles in Washington, although that constitutes insanity of a sort. In a rite of spring, the NCAA college basketball tournament extends from March 19 to April 8. For fans, it’s a welcome break from the daily round.
March is a transitional month as the vernal equinox on March 20 heralds the change of seasons. The word equinox is derived from Latin words meaning “equal night.” Daylight and darkness command equal time as the sun rises and sets due east and due west. In response to the increasing light and warmth, gardens explode with new growth as Mother Nature dons colorful finery.
Religious observances call for contemplation. Passover extends from March 25 to April 2 in this year 5773 on the Hebrew calendar, a celebration of the deliverance of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt.
Following 40 days of Lenten contemplations and the solemnity of Good Friday, on Easter Sunday, March 31 this year, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is celebrated.
Perhaps God created seasons to remind His human flock that change is constant. From day to day, weather conditions fluctuate, sometimes with fearsome storms that sweep away material things, forcing re-examination, rebuilding and re-direction. Yet in the changes of season, there are patterns we can count on.
The NCAA tournament is about winning and losing with grace and good sportsmanship. In all we do, in our daily activities, family matters, work projects and plans and investing, we have varying degrees of success and frustrations.
We learn that in many aspects of life, we have no control over people, places, or things. We only have control over our own reactions to challenge. Coaches and athletes learn that they do not control the other team’s playbook. They only control how they play their game, and how they react to the opposition’s moves. Keep that in mind as you ponder frustrations, no matter where they come from – Washington, Wall Street or Main Street.
The Old Testament chronicles the journeys of the Jewish people, witnessed in the story of Passover. It’s about deliverance, a long journey to a better tomorrow. Good Friday is about material death overcome through resurrection and deliverance on the third day, reminding us that this life is but a brief journey on the way to eternal life in the spirit. Easter is linked to the Jewish Passover by much of its symbolism.
The balance of light and dark on the vernal equinox reminds us of the need for balance in life, yin versus yang, work-life balance, balancing the material with the spiritual. At a Lenten retreat, a Dominican priest urged that we “give up hope of a better past.” Acceptance and moving ahead is at the heart of the Passover story and the Passion of Christ. The priest reminded us that “it’s never been about the problems in my life ... it’s about the solutions.” Said he, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is mystery. Today is a gift ... that’s why it’s called the present.”
Money and material possessions are but tools that enable our journey. It’s not about the possessions; it’s about the journey. Riches and success are not evil. It’s about what we do with our blessings. The religious observances of March, along with the change of seasons, remind us of the true meaning of life, a material interlude in an eternal spiritual journey. This is a time to pray for those who have lost their way, as well as a challenge to us, as Sherpas to help the burdened and the lost.
The lesson of Passover and Easter is that sometimes you have to be humbled in order to be exalted. On the last night of the Lenten mission, the priest offered an introspective philosophical point: “Humility is not thinking less of yourself. Humility is thinking of yourself less.”
Have a beautiful spring.
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Lewis Walker, CFP, is president of Walker Capital Management Corp. and Walker Capital Advisory Services, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) in Norcross, Ga. Securities and certain advisory services offered through the Strategic Financial Alliance Inc. (SFA). Lewis Walker is a registered representative of SFA, which is otherwise unaffiliated with the Walker Capital Companies. 770-441-2603. firstname.lastname@example.org.
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