Take time to sense spring

(Unsplash / Biegun Wschodni)

As my heart grows weary reading and listening to the news, I know I need to keep what is happening in perspective, realizing that it is part of much larger forces within the universe. Spring is a great reminder that out of death comes life, and that beauty and hope await us if we can stop and become present to it.

This brought to mind my first profession retreat led by Brother David Stendl-Rast. He invited us to spend a day with each of our senses. For a certain amount of time each day, we were to focus on one of our senses and try to enter that sensation and experience it. Not analyze it, but simply be with it. It is another way of entering contemplation.

I invite you to join me in taking part in such a meditation. Simply read along with me, and then pause and see what you are sensing, and add that to your reflection. Or, after reading this, decide which sense you want to focus on and for how long. Then simply begin to hear, see, smell, touch and taste!


Awakening at the faintest beginnings of dawn, I lay in bed listening to the very quiet chirps of the birds outside my window. Quiet and rhythmic, the sound began to increase and seemed to be circling the house. Life was awakening, and each greeting was echoed as dawn became sunrise. Other sounds of spring: howling of wind, staccato of rain drops on the window, river currents thrashing, clanking radiators warming the last winter chill and …


Flying over the hills of Northern California, I was captivated by the stunning chartreuse of the grasses flowing for as far as my eyes could see. The beauty sank into my body, reminding me of new life and how to delight in it. Other sights of spring: watching the buds erupt overnight, acknowledging the perennials returning to grace the garden, baby squirrels scampering up the trees and …


Catching a hint of the sweet aroma soon to fill the air as the viburnum bush in the garden beneath the window begins to bring forth its tiny blossoms. The musky aroma of rich earth, soaked by spring rains, tickling the nostrils. Other smells of spring: tantalizing whiffs of outdoor grilling beginning to waft in the air, the sun’s new warmth on your skin, the aromas embedded in wood and rocks and…


Encountering a tree beginning to leaf, I rub the new leaves and caress the bark, feeling the texture and marveling at shape and contour. The shift in the spring wind leaves its tell-tale mark as its warmth embraces my body. Other touches of spring: clothes clinging soaked through and through from a sudden spring storm, soil sifting through fingers, stems being cut for a spring bouquet and …


Walking on the Santa Monica pier unencumbered by winter wear, I let my tongue savor the salty ocean air. I taste the hints of spring-sweet, refreshing and zesty. Other tastes of spring: a hint of basil, breakfast with sweet and tart cherries, juicy peaches, tasty apricots and plums, the sweat rolling down your cheeks and into your mouth as you do your spring cleaning and…

Taking time to be with our bodies, our senses, helps us to reconnect with ourselves and with all that is around us. Taking time reminds us that we are all connected. Taking time invites us into a stillness, a full silence, where we can let go and be present to a deeper reality of which we are a part. Taking time to welcome spring awakens us to beauty and to new possibilities. Taking time prepares us to embrace the difficult times we are living in, knowing that from the seemingly bleak and dead winter, spring bursts forth.

[Nancy Sylvester is founder and director of the Institute for Communal Contemplation and Dialogue. She served in leadership of her own religious community, the Sister Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Monroe, Michigan, as well as in the Presidency of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. Prior to that, she was national coordinator of Network, the national Catholic social justice lobby.]