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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Rituals of Spring: A Time For Balance and Renewal

I've always thought of spring as a time for balance and renewal.  Even though the weather is taking a while to warm up in New York, I've noticed the crocuses in the front garden as a sure sign that spring has arrived.  And living close to a large park, I hear the sound of birds calling to each other early in the morning.  I even heard the sound of geese flying over head yesterday.  These are all welcome signs of spring.

Rituals of Spring: A Time For Balance and Renewal

Rituals of Spring:  A Time for Balance and Renewal
I've written in earlier blog posts that I was raised mostly around my father's side of the family, a traditional Italian family with a grandfather who came from Naples and a grandmother whose family came from Calabria.

As a teenager, I rebelled against family traditions that felt stifling to me.  It was only as an adult that I  was able to have enough distance and perspective to appreciate some of the traditions and understand their importance in terms of maintaining  a sense of unity in the family.

Now that I'm an adult, I have options that I didn't have when I was younger.  I can pick and choose the traditions that I like and discard the ones that I don't.  And, if I like, I can create new traditions, new rituals, that are meaningful to me.

Spring is a good time to look at our lives and consider what's meaningful--what to let go of, what to keep, and what we might want that is new.  

Spring is a Good Time to Consider What's Meaningful to Us

This is reflected in our religious holidays during this time of the year.  It's also reflected in the tradition of spring cleaning where we decide what we want to keep, what to throw out, and what new things we want in our lives.

I was very much reminded of the rituals of spring being a time of balance and renewal a couple of days ago when I saw the Good Friday procession in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn.  Originally, I came upon this procession a few years ago by accident while having dinner with a friend in Carroll Gardens.  I have since learned that this ritual has been a tradition in this neighborhood for decades.

The procession is quite unique and beautiful, regardless of your beliefs.  Most people have only ever witnessed this type of ritual in Italian movies that try to recapture what it was like in small Italian villages.  This Good Friday procession in Carroll Gardens is the real thing.

Rituals of Spring

The procession, which is a reenactment of what are believed in the Catholic religion to be the final hours of Christ's life, was brought over in the late 1880s by Italians who were originally from a village in Bari, Italy. The procession starts at Sacred Hearts and St. Stephens Church, the oldest Italian church in Brooklyn, and goes throughout the neighborhood.

The statues that represent Jesus and Mary are carried throughout the streets of Carroll Gardens in much the same way as they were in Bari.  There is a traditional Italian funeral band and women singing Italian hymns throughout the procession.

Most people who participate in the procession no longer live in Carroll Gardens. But they return each year, and with great effort, they maintain this tradition, which is sacred to them.  Throughout the crowd, you can see people, who have known each other's families for generations, greeting each other  with warmth and affection.

Finding Balance and Meaning in Our Lives
I believe that finding balance and meaning in our lives is a lifelong process.  We change over time and what's important and meaningful to us changes over time too.  So, it's a constant renegotiation.   It's a natural part of being human.

We can create our own transformative rituals, which can be whatever is meaningful to us.  We don't have to "throw out the baby with the bath water."  We can revisit old traditions and take what we like.   I'm a firm believer in the wise advice of the 12 Step traditions of "take what you like and leave the rest."

I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist.  I work with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website:  Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist

To set up a consultation, call me at (212) 726-1006 or email me:

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