Ver Sacrum / Holy Spring

In 1897 the Vienna Secession was born. It was the second attempt, artists and creatives came together to honor beauty and youth in defiance to the old order.

The movement’s first publication in 1892 was named “Jugend” later the whole movement became known as “Jugendstil.” The concept of “Secession” came from the historical “secessio plebis” when dissatisfied roman citizens threatened to leave the city and create a new Rome outside the old walls.

Today in the reborn Austrian republic the motto above the entrance of the the new Secession structure reads again:

Der Zeit ihre Kunst
Der Kunst ihre Freiheit

It was forcefully removed twice. The first time in 1905 when the Klimt Group left and the second time in 1938 when Hitler occupied Austria.

The title “Ver Sacrum” comes from a poem by Ludwig Uhland entitled ,“Weihefruehling” (Holy Spring):

… you have heard what pleases god.
Go, get ready and listen to stillness.
You are the seeds of a new world.
The Holy Spring that god wills …

Between Ash Wednesday and Transfiguration we have come almost halfway through Lent 2022. And so far … just when we started to imagine light at the end of this darkness … more waves of hatred and violence wash over us and through us. How much more emptiness can we open ourselves to? Might we find new ways , greener pastures, if we learn to transfigure even righteous anger into empathy?

Might we voluntarily increase our capacity to share others’s experiences of shame, humiliation and pain by opening our hearts to the paranoid pain, experienced by the little boy inside Putin, born into the traumatic experience of twenty million WWII dead and becoming a man in the midst of the shame and humiliation of loosing the Soviet Union out of the blue?

Might we gratefully empathize with our own old, weary-yet-wise president and heed his call to limit our seemingly insatiable lust for violence and victories?

Might we find it in our hearts to turn over peacemaking to Jesus and spend more money helping him heal the wounds of war rather than continuing to waste our planets limited resources on making profits by selling guns at home and weapons abroad? Could we possibly awaken to the reality that humility rather than hubris is the way of true victory over personal ego and political egomania? Perhaps then we might learn to value solitude, rather than going it alone. Discover the hidden good god of the great silence and gentle breeze, rather than the noisy gods of addiction, violence, and bloody battle?

Could we then, one fine day, content ourselves with simply being human? Of the earth for now, co-creative and co-responsible for all life on earth.

Then together we might find better ways to worship the gifts of spring with rituals dedicated to beauty, rather than memorializing and immortalizing curse, violence, and death?

When a few days ago fasting and dealing with childhood trauma left me depleted and exhausted, my faithful friend Rannigan stopped by with blessings and Kaya Oakes’ 2021 book The Defiant Middle: How Women Claim Life’s In-betweens to Remake the World.

What a timely work! Oakes dedicated the book to her family’s young ones and to Mary Ward (1585-1645), my mothers role model, who lived and died simply asserting her hope that “in time girls will come to do much.”

And so, as my mother taught me the day my sister died: “dum spiro spero,” as long as she is breathing, there is hope.

And hope like ver sacrum, defiantly returns and gracefully keeps breathing life in-between faith and love.

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