Jewish Renewal in Tablet

What's rising

Tap_300Maybe you've noticed the full moon recently. (Where I live, it's been shining brilliantly the last few nights on a light layer of snow.) The full moon of this month is the holiday of Tu BiShvat, the New Year of the Trees.

Other people have written smart things about Tu BiShvat and environmentalism, among them Jay Michaelson. This year I find myself focusing most on the internal and spiritual dynamics of Tu BiShvat.

Tradition teaches that this is the moment when the sap begins to rise in the trees to nourish the fruits of the coming year. What spiritual or emotional sap might be rising in you at this moment of this year?

What are the fruits you hope that internal sap might nourish: are they creative, interpersonal, emotional, spiritual? Do you have reservoirs to draw on which will help those things flower forth in coming months?

Do you feel sufficiently rooted this winter -- either in the place where you are, or in your spiritual practices, or in your relationship with God -- to stand firm even in emotionally stormy weather? 

What holds you back from the flowering and fruiting for which you were made? Are you afraid of an emotional, interpersonal, or spiritual hard freeze which will nip your self-expression in the bud?

What do you most hope is beginning to rise in you this Tu BiShvat? Maybe you want to cultivate compassion, or kindness, for others or for yourself. Or maybe hope itself is what is rising in you.

What would it feel like to know, in your bones, that even in the deep freeze of midwinter -- even in the deep freeze of whatever might be challenging in your life -- sap is rising and sweetness will come?