March 2017

March Madness

The phrase “mad as a March hare” has been around since at least the 16th century in England. Hares come out of hibernation and begin breeding in late February or early March. They were then, and perhaps are still, said to exhibit erratic or even uncharacteristically violent behavior during the late winter season – hence, they were mad.

To sports fans, “March madness” means the frenzy of national college basketball tournaments, and the associated betting pools. To anyone Irish in blood or spirit, March brings the exuberance and excesses of St. Patrick’s Day. March, in the Christian calendar, is also the season of Lent, which for the devout is a time not of romping or frenzy but of reflection, penitence, and foregoing of pleasure.

For many of us, March is the month to become stir-crazy waiting for spring to arrive – the month spring comes on the calendar but not in the garden. March is a month during which you might want to leave town. Leaving town features in my March plans. I had asked the Board last summer for time off this month, in part to allow me to use unused sabbatical time I have accrued. On the 18th Booker and I are flying to California. We plan to hike, and window shop, and curl up with our books under palm trees I’m sure are waiting just for us. On the way home, we’ll visit our grandchildren in Tennessee. Before then I’ll keep a semi-regular schedule here, participating in our discernment about how we, as a religious community, can strengthen our impact, ministry and witness in these mad times. Our country’s structural and systemic racism is one of the intractable challenges we face. Madly, Washington’s recently arrived March hares seem to believe it is something to defend and perpetuate.

I hope some of you will join me on March 8 for a showing of the film “White Like Me,” a look at some of the ways racial privilege shapes the lives of white Americans. And/or visit the “Undesign the Redline” exhibit at Smith’s Nielsen Library – look under “current projects” at knowledgelab. There is also a talk on “Racial Justice in the Courts” in Greenfield on April 1 – see the flyer at USNF or for details.

And, for joy and to provide assurance that spring really will come, there is Smith’s annual bulb show, which opens on March 4.

Spring is coming. I am blessed and grateful to be your minister.Janets signature