This week in Israel and in other places where Jewish holidays are celebrated, we will celebrate a beautiful holiday called Tu B’Shevat, also known as the “birthday of the trees.” If you are unfamiliar with this holiday you may wonder why there is such a holiday in Judaism. The answer depends on who you ask but all will agree that observance of Judaism is very much connected to the land itself. There is an agricultural significance to the age of trees and Judaism dictates when you can (and cannot) eat a tree’s fruits. On Tu B’Shevat we enjoy fruits that are mentioned in the Torah and many people will participate in tree planting ceremonies.
So how do you decide when there will be a universal birthdate for all trees? Tu B’Shevat — the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat — is marked in the dead of winter. Not in spring, when the trees are filled with blossoms, nor in early summer, when many trees are bearing fruit, but in January, when the weather in Israel is cold, and it can be gray and rainy much of the time.
But it is also precisely now when the weather starts to turn and the sap inside the trees begins to rise that we celebrate the wondrous holiday. It is just the moment before we see the tiny little leaves emerge from the stems when we watch the buds grow, and when the promise of flowers blooming — most likely almond blossoms — is near. And if you take the time to watch this miraculous process, you can witness real transformation each and every year.
Changing from the inside out
We all have moments or periods of “sap rising.” It is the moment or period of gestation that starts with a decision, or intention, to change or grow. It is time spent inside before change is detected or visible on the outside. It’s the time we take to think about what it is we want from ourselves, and what or how we want to experience ourselves, while we walk this path called life.
Most of you know that change starts from within and that it doesn’t start with better or different habits. Change starts with a decision and a commitment, a decision to want to change, and a commitment to clarify the how or what. This means to commit time and energy to clarify our purpose, intentions, and goals. Once that foundation has been established, we take actions including picturing our dreams, vision statements, rewiring our unconscious beliefs, adjusting our actions, and other steps to manifest them to reality.
When we truly focus on changes we want to make, work on articulating and finding ways to express those intentions and goals out loud, we stir our own internal “sap” and manifest the changes we want to experience.
The fruit, so to speak, or the external results, come later. But they do not, and should not, be how we mark our change. We need to invest in and celebrate that internal process with the knowledge and faith that the fruits will come, but know that this commitment to ourselves and our growth is really where the change begins.
How are you going to catalyze your internal spring? How can you create a “rising of your own sap?” How can you reach into the gray of winter and warm up the ideas and thoughts and dreams so that you can bring them to the surface and actualize them by spring for yourself?
I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Happy Tu B’Shevat!