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The name for the month of April was taken from the Latin aperire which means to open – April being the time of year when trees and flowers begin to open. It was also a time of year that ancient cultures had festivities that were light-hearted, even silly, and initially April Fool’s customs grew out of that seasonal light-heartedness, reflecting the way nature “fools” people with fickle weather. In 1500’s, when the Gregorian calendar took over from the Julian – moving the first day of the new year from April 1st to January 1st - those who forgot the change and continued to celebrate New Year’s in April were teased as “April Fools”
Whether intentional or not, there is a connection between the quality of openness and the historic figure of The Fool. The Fool of antiquity possessed a child-like openness and connection to natural forces. Because his insight and advice grew out of his ability to speak freely – ever ready to point out foibles of those in power – and his willingness to upset the conventional order, play pranks and create surprise, the fool was seen as having a special kind of wisdom.
As we enter the month of April, a month which includes Earth Day, let us take time to honor the qualities of openness and spontaneity so obvious in the natural world. Find time one day to go to a place in nature that you resonate with. Choose a spot that appeals to you and sit down. It might be under a tree, at the edge of a field, by a body of water. It might be a place in your own yard or a nearby park. Wherever it is, take a few moments to become still. Allow your breath to settle – coming and going easily and effortlessly. As you become increasingly aware of your breath, see if you can notice your own natural rhythm. It may be slow, it may be rapid, it may be smooth, it may be rough – there is no right rhythm, each rhythm is unique.
Continuing to breathe in and out, allow the breath to fill you so that you can feel yourself expanding and becoming more spacious inside. Now imagine that you are breathing in the trees, the bushes, the grass. And as you breathe out, imagine your breath merging with the landscape around you. Breathing in, breathe in the sounds that you hear – bird calls, wind through the trees, man-made sounds. As you breathe out, let the sound of your breath join with the sounds around you, until you begin to feel part of all you hear.
Now imagine each one of your cells is opening to receive the sounds, sights, and movements outside. Imagine these microscopic openings throughout your body and imagine everything you see, hear, feel, pouring through them. There is no tightness or resistance, only a million tiny openings which life is flowing through. Absorbed in this state of openness and transparency, you may feel the urge to sway back and forth to the movement of your breath. You may want to move your arms or feet as the air flows through each tiny opening. You may even feel like standing so your whole body has the freedom to move as it wants. If you become self-conscious, think of the playful wisdom of the Fool. Remember the spontaneous gestures of small children, wild animals, of trees and plants. All the natural world moves in response to forces that flow through it. There is no reason that you should be different.
In this spirit, as you move through your day continue to feel the million tiny openings. Allow your actions to be easeful, feeling the breath, the air, the sights, the sounds, flowing in and out – as if you are a great sieve which the energy of life is flowing through. Make an attempt to change your habits and shake up your daily routine. If what you do isn’t perfect, that’s all right. If dinner isn’t ready on time, if your house a tad untidy, if your clothes are a bit disheveled . . . Oh well! Nothing in nature is perfect. No tree, no flower, no bird or pond ever worried about being wrong – each moves in response to the forces around it. So as you move through your day, feel the cells of your body opening. Take the risk of appearing foolish or wrong. Practice opening to what is and saying, Oh well. This attitude is a key to wisdom and wellness. It is a way of contributing to the wellness of the earth.
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