March 14, 2012 - Spring: the warm sunny days, the snow is melted, daffodils, crocus, and hyacinths are popping out of the ground; the earth is coming back to life after its long winters nap.
The Equinox is near where the days will once again be longer than the nights; animals come out of hibernation, migratory birds return to the north, and the golf courses reopen.
Renewal, rebirth, resurrection and recreation are common themes along the mystical path.
Osiris, Ra & Benu in Egypt, Mithra and Zarathustra in Persia, Adonis of Syria, the Grecian Phoenix, the Chinese Businiao, the Russian Firebird and a variety of other ancient scriptures, myths and legends from most every culture recount this mystery of death and rebirth, of loss and rediscovery.
The religious aspirant who is seeking a mystical union with the divine routinely participates in rituals reenacting the experience of death and rebirth.
Ritual purification, baptism, fasting, meditation, aligning ourselves with the divine assist us in finding meaning in life through death and rebirth.
Jesus' crucifixion, resurrection and ascension epitomize this mystical process of renewal in mind, body and spirit.
Lent, beginning with Ash Wednesday and culminating on Easter are the Christian aspirants traditional time of ritual opportunity to participate in this mystical process.
The reward is the kingdom. The cross is the mystical path. "…take up the cross and follow me…" (Mt. 10:38) taken in context means to let go of the beliefs, behaviors and ties to the past that are blocking your awareness of the kingdom and enter into the reality of its presence here and now.
We cross out the negativity represented by the earth and regain the possibilities representative of heaven.
The ever present reality of the kingdom is a dominate message of Jesus in the Gospels. He places it within our reach "at hand" (Mt. 4:17) here and now.
He compares it to practices that we can participate in here and now such as sowing good seed, leavening bread, finding buried treasure, and casting our nets.
The key to entering the kingdom is to "change and become as children" (Mt. 18:3.) Children are naturally open, receptive and responsive to the leadings of spirit.
They have no defined rules of behavior, regulations of proper conduct, earthly laws to govern their expression except those that are imposed upon them by us adults.
When we are guided by spirit we naturally do the right things, love and honor each other as expressions of the divine, and desire to do only good.
Some native cultures have a practice of seasonally setting aside time to observe their children and emulate their play and activities. This way they reconnect with life anew and experience a rebirth in mind and body.
This is a conscious process. We all feel the urgings of spirit to be more truly authentic, truly who we are as expressions of the divine, children of God.
It is by consciously participating in the process that we realize the kingdom: expressing peace, wholeness and abundance anew in this now moment.
Where ever you are on your spiritual journey, I invite you to make the choice to be renewed, reborn, resurrected and recreated, you can rediscover your divine purpose and path, and enter into an awareness of the kingdom here and now.
Blessings of peace, joy & love
Matthew E. Long is senior minister
at Peace Unity Church & Holistic Center.