I woke up this morning with vague strains of Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring” running through my mind. I was mulling over the significance of Easter and the Passover, that are both holidays set around the first full moon after the Spring Equinox (and this year, we even have a Total Lunar Eclipse the day of the full moon, which lands tomorrow, April 4th); as I did so, this groundbreaking music crept in, bringing me an extraordinary soundtrack for my musings.

If you are not familiar with it, click here to listen to it and also see the Joffrey Ballet’s 1987 rendition of it, which brought back to light the original choreography.

There is nothing quite like this work to portray what Spring  means for us human beings. It is such an exciting time of year, so full of energy and promise, and even a little craziness! Even in those climates where the changes are not so dramatic like here in Wisconsin, it is still a time associated with rebirth and renewal, and energies rising back up after having been hibernating during the long, cold nights.

And yet – every rebirth requires a death ….. Without going into a whole discussion of the symbolism inherent in the Christian Easter or in the Jewish Passover, they both speak deeply of what it means to have the courage to face our demons and oppressors, cost what it may, and change, grow, evolve into something new.

I think that is why Igor Stravinsky’s extraordinary work came to mind as I was musing about these things. A musical score written for the ballet in 1913, it introduced so many new sounds and rhythms that people actually rioted in the audience! On first impact, his ideas were just way too far ahead of his time, and people could not handle them.

But, as often happens, other artists picked up on what Stravinsky had managed to do, and appreciated it immensely, so they did not give up on wanting to perform this work, despite the resistance of the masses …. and, over time, the general public learned to love it as well.

Today it is one of the best loved orchestral pieces around, and the original choreography, that had also caused quite a scandal back then, was revived in the 1980’s and is now also considered one of the greatest works of art ever created (for more information on this, click here to read more about it ).

"NikolaiRoerichRite1" by Nicholas Roerich 1874-1947 - Nicholas Roerich Museum, New York. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:NikolaiRoerichRite1.jpg#/media/File:NikolaiRoerichRite1.jpg

Nikolai Roerich Rite of Spring

Nikolai Roerich’s artwork (shown above), inspired by the music and dance and used to create the stage backdrop for the original performance, is also exquisite and groundbreaking, with its unique use of color and light and form.

Mulling over all the various aspects that this one multifaceted work of art shows us if we look at it closely, I can’t help but think, also, about how difficult it can be to change, sometimes, to heed the call of our Inner Artist …. and how, if we manage to listen to our deepest selves and its desire for greater freedom, greater love, greater beauty, greater meaning, greater Life, we might, yes, meet with some resistance at first – from both within our selves and from those around us – but, ultimately, we can experience the immense joy of creating new beauty and new energies, for ourselves and for others.

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I can’t imagine that Stravinsky was happy when the audience did not like his masterpiece at first, and when people accused him of being licentious and all kinds of nasty, uncouth things. It probably caused him immense pain, besides the anger that he is known to have voiced.

However, this did not stop him. He followed his heart, his inner muse that nudged him to break through barriers and create a synthesis of the traditional and the new, of the country and the city, of the uncultured and the the refined; by doing so he opened up a brand new creative door that others could walk through as well, one that brought an immense new freedom of sound, movement, composition of all kinds, that has, some say, changed the entire course of the history of art.

Jesus did that, too – he followed his own convictions, telling people to let go of rigid structures so they could find God within; so did Moses, who had the crazy idea of getting his people to leave Egypt – a secure, known, life, even though one of slavery – and walk out into the terrible discomforts and unknowns of crossing the desert so they could embrace their freedom, and build a new identity.

All great works of art – and whenever we create something new, be it in the purely “artistic” fields or in politics, religion, philosophy, science, whatever – begin with huge sacrifices, and with the ability of someone who has a vision to break through the fear of rejection and of going against the status quo, and birth something new.

It is also interesting to note that the greatest works of art are often created thanks to the efforts of more than one person. While the vision may be brought out by an individual, just as in a ballet or an orchestra, or in the collaboration between Stravinsky / Diaghilev / Nijinsky, the actual beauty comes forth thanks to the collaboration of many.

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Often, our ability to choose to make our own Lives a work of art begins with some sort of painful sacrifice: we experience a loss, an illness, or are just bothered by a nagging inner imperative to change and grow and develop more love and freedom for oneself and others.

If we can keep in mind that our goal is to create more love and beauty for ourselves and others, to birth a new identity that releases new energy into the world, and we are willing to open up to find the collaborators and supporters we need to expand and grow and bring forth our vision, we can experience a deep joy and appreciation of what we are managing to create, and step into a whole new dimension of existence.

This is my sincere wish for all, this holiday season – may you find your own personal Rite of Spring, to help you find the strength and inspiration to step out of the old, and into the new.