The message of Spring!

Dear members of the  InterChange family,

Here in Canada, we are celebrating Springtime.  For many of you in other parts of the world, this is not the case. In the Southern hemisphere, the seasons are the opposite of ours and you are heading into autumn.  Many others of you don’t experience four seasons at all; rather you have dry seasons and rainy seasons.

Nevertheless, whether we are actually experiencing the season of Spring or not, I believe the season has
a common message for all of us, wherever we are.

Spring is an exuberance of new life, often coming after a long wait when everything seems dead or dormant.
It is a time of rebirth and new beginnings; a renewal of life and energy.  The early flowers, like the crocuses pictured here, emerge through the snow or through the dead stalks of last summer’s flowers. Tender, golden-green leaves unfurl on the trees, and birds sing to each other and spiral through the sky in their ecstatic mating dance.

Of course, even in the wonderment of this season, everything is not perfect.  Trees that bud too soon are susceptible to an early killing frost. In Canada, even as we enjoy the warm weather earlier than usual, we have to remind ourselves that this is an effect of climate change, of the irreversible damage we humans have done to the earth.

So, what are the lessons of this season for us in InterChange?

Firstly, we can celebrate and create new beginnings, especially when we’ve waited for them a long time. This Spring, we see the rebirth of two InterChange projects: the Food-Peace project, reborn as a column on our webpage, and the Toolkit for Peacebuilders. You are warmly invited to contribute to both of these projects.

The strategic planning exercise currently underway is another example of a new beginning. It gives us a chance to decide on our priorities, and to focus our energy on the areas we’d like to see growing and developing.

Kenya will be having an election this year, and we are hoping that the work InterChange and others having been doing on the ground will help give rise to new, peaceful directions in that country.

Another lesson of Spring is that while early frosts can be damaging, their effects may be overcome. InterChange members in many parts of the world have experienced difficulties, both within the sometimes hostile environments we work in, and even within our organizations. Let the Spring be a time for overcoming these obstacles and disappointments, and surging into the future with renewed energy and determination.

Above all, Spring is a time of hope, grounded on the sustained work we have been doing all along. There is a right time for everything. The flowering of this season required the long, patient gestation of the winter, and it sometimes takes a long time for our efforts to bear fruit.

The words of Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, express this beautifully:

In April, we cannot see sunflowers in France, so we might say the sunflowers do not exist. But the local farmers have already planted thousands of seeds, and when they look at the bare hills, they may be able to see the sunflowers already. The sunflowers are there. They lack only the conditions of sun, heat, rain and July.

I wish you all new energy, beauty, and above all, peace.