The snow is melting fast. “Brown,” not green, lawns are becoming more apparent. At the farm, the stubble of picked corn shows itself again in the fields. Although spring doesn’t officially begin until March 20, I’m sensing the beginnings of a bad case of spring fever.
It’s too early for this – at least a couple of snowstorms and a few wind chills too early. Although not necessarily a medical condition, spring fever has a number of noticeable symptoms that I feel coming on.
I’m beginning to see a need to become more active. I want to clean up my bicycle and get on the trails. Some find themselves heading outside for a walk or a run or at least sitting on the porch. Another symptom of this springtime phenomenon involves craving healthier foods. Salads and fresh fruit are part of it. I haven’t experienced that symptom yet.
A medical symptom includes the body producing less melatonin. You want to sleep less. Other symptoms include a better attitude and disposition, a feeling of invigoration and restlessness and the need to start spring cleaning. I’m not really into cleaning either.
Temperature predictions for southeastern Wisconsin indicate we will be experiencing temperatures of 50 degrees this weekend. No wonder I feel this way. I don’t have all those symptoms this early in the season, but I know I do have the beginning of spring fever and it isn’t even Lent. So what does it mean?
If these early feelings of spring have gotten you motivated, take advantage of it. Start seriously planning for what’s to come. Where do I begin? I’m not getting the cleaning supplies out just yet, but I am making some preliminary plans for Lent.
Lent begins March 1 and, unfortunately, I don’t always have the motivation to begin “spiritual planning” until Ash Wednesday – or later. That simply is not soon enough. What positive things might I plan for this Lent? What are the options? If you have some of the spring fever symptoms, initial planning can lead to a spiritually profitable Lent.
Spring cleaning around the house should include throwing away some things you no longer use or which are no longer necessary. I have a number of outdated books I no longer use sitting on the shelf. And there are my old summer shirts that I hate to part with, but which someone else could use.
I make it a practice that if I purchase something, then something I no longer use needs to go the St. Vincent de Paul store. I need to toss or donate those items that clutter my life, distract me and weigh me down.
Spiritually, it may be the same. Might you want to begin some new spiritual practices replacing those you may have outgrown? Is Scripture reading part of your daily routine? What about a trip to the nearest senior care center? Many centers appreciate a volunteer coming in to lead the rosary once a week.
“There are some terrific spiritual writers, e.g., Pope Francis, Henri Nouwen, Fr. Ron Rolheiser, you may also want to look into. There are good books and websites, e.g., Bishop Robert Barron’s Word on Fire www.wordonfire.org, offering prayer and meditation.
Ask your parish priest for some suggestions based on your needs, or contact the Salzmann Library at Saint Francis de Sales Seminary www.sfs.edu/Salzmann or (414) 747-6479.
Spring involves rejuvenation, new life, and ridding yourself of things that are no longer useful. Early spring fever can be a helpful illness not only for our homes, but also for our spiritual development. This is a great opportunity for you and me to begin early what we often delay. I’m taking advantage of this. If you have even a trace of early spring fever, put it to good use.