In the land of Israel, the “harbinger of Spring” festival of Tu B’shvat is marked at this time of year by the blossoming of the white almond blossoms through the central and northern parts of the land. Those of us, however, who live in the northern hemisphere diaspora, often celebrate Tu B’shvat surrounded by several inches of white snow and leaf-less trees. Is this any way to celebrate a harbinger of Spring?
I’ll suggest that it is. I actually find it very profound to contemplate the coming of Spring in the depths of a Chicago winter. It reminds me that even during this dark, cold season, there are unseen forces at work preparing our world for renewal and rebirth. Deep beneath the ground, the sap is beginning to rise in the roots of our trees – although this fructification process might not be as visually spectacular as the proliferation of white almond blossoms exploding across the countryside, I believe this invisible life-giving energy is eminently worth acknowledging – and celebrating.
I took the picture above this morning while walking my dog. They may not be gorgeous almond blossoms, but I’d like to think that these bare, snow covered elms are wonderful spiritual teachers in their own right. All hail the unseen forces of our rebirth and Happy Tu B’shvat!