Last night, I visited a friend whose spiritual life is centred around the seasons and the earth. In the past, we have celebrated many equinoxes and solstices together through the building of a fire, sharing a meal and usually engaging in some symbolic action such as throwing a stick on the fire to represent all that we let go of, while at the same time inviting what we would like in.
So, it came as no surprise that after our dinner my friend suggested lighting the winter clippings and having a bonfire for Oestre, being the weekend that is in it. I was a bit caught off guard as I didn’t expect a fire- it wasn’t on the cards. I didn’t have my warm clothes or wellies for a trip down the garden. All the same, we looked at each other in a half smile/ half laugh and said, ‘Sod it- let’s do it!’.
So who or what is Oestre?
Oestre is a Germanic Goddess who represents fertility, the return of life and growth to the earth. So all of those traditional Easter symbols, such as eggs, bunnies and flowers have been associated and stem from Oestre, ( sometimes spelled Eostre). In some ways, the masses in the west have been paying homage to her for centuries without even knowing it.
My friend, as part of our non- official ritual, explained these significances, as well as highlighted the fact that what we really need to be doing this weekend is planting. Planting seeds of ideas, projects, intentions, (which we most certainly did as we spent a time in silence, simply watching the fire) but also actually planting seeds or potting plants. He explained that while we won’t see the fruit of these seeds for a few months, we need to be laying the groundwork now.
So, as it is Easter, I thought it would be fitting to take this opportunity to set the weekly challenge to one of planting seeds. Thich Nhat Hanh, the Zen master who has spent his whole life bringing Mindfulness to people, encourages his students to ‘plant the seeds of Mindfulness’. Like seeds, Mindfulness is a practice that needs time to land, germinate, grow and blossom. It is a practice that needs to be nurtured and nourished in order for it to bare fruit.
Perhaps this week we can ask the question of ‘how might I plant the seeds of Mindfulness in my life? What steps do I need to take to nurture and nourish my practice?
Then it might be helpful to write down any ideas that come up in response to the question. Maybe you might like to set a practice schedule, or commit to a 3 minute breathing space every lunch hour, or maybe to log on to the weekly sit or register for a course you’ve always been wanting to take.
Or, maybe it is to go the garden centre, pick up some vegetable seeds or flowers plants and spend an afternoon mindfully in the garden.
Happy Easter and Happy planting!
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