Springtime brings whales, a wish of mercy
IT TAKES a while for newcomers to notice, but Hawaii does have seasons, including spring. If the warming weather and the stars at night don't tell you that it is spring, the baby whales all around the waters of Hawaii should tell you. By the first week of April, they are bigger than vans but find it easy to swim around Mom's tail and under and over, even. They are, to many people, a more welcome sign of spring than a robin spotted in scattered snow up in the north somewhere.
Spring and baby whales are signs of renewal. For a long time it was assumed that the world was made in the springtime, and the civil calendar began then. And why not? If the world were made in the winter, then the plants would die and nothing could be harvested in the autumn. If made in the autumn, it would be too late to plant. And who would try to plant in the summer?
In spring, especially among Christians and Jews, there is a sense of some kind of beginning. For Christians it is Pascha or Easter -- to use the pagan name popular in English and German but not in the Latin languages. For Jews it is Passover, marking a night different from all other nights.
Spring is for planting, or for exodus, or for a beginning -- it is not for sitting around. The bread in Jewish households is not even given time to rise -- flat bread, quickly into the oven, intended to be ready on the way out the door.
It is a serious time, but many believe that only the serious can be joyful and only the serious things can make us joyful. It is a time to see if we are serious and joyful or if we have reduced our pleasures to the small and trifling, to the manini. That reduction would be a sin. We are made for great and good things: surviving the angel of death, led in the darkness by fire, waiting for the great water to divide. Things like that.
But we know we are also fearful. Hunkering down, nesting, going back to slavery where life was not as risky as freedom, is common enough.
So we repent, too: for the lack of money for our veterans, for our abysmal ignorance and fear of Islam, for the separations even among Christians who you might think would find Easter shattering enough to overcome the laziness that keeps them apart.
We wish all the birds and whales, all the faithful not afraid of journeys, the best. We know it rains on the just and the unjust, especially in the spring, and we wish mercy and compassion to fall, like the rain, even on the unjust.
The Rev. Halbert Weidner is an Oratorian priest and the pastor of Holy Trinity Church and St. Sophia Ukrainian Mission.