Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Change is in the air

This week feels like the first full week of spring. I can always tell when spring is here because the Snowdrops, the first flowers of spring, start pushing through the soil in my backyard. Spring flowers offer the hope of warmer days to come and the renewal of life.

I am a member of the Men's Garden Club of Cleveland. This is a group of about 100 or so mostly folks between the ages of 40 and 80.

The club started in the early 1930's in downtown Cleveland and has been meeting on the second Monday of the month from September through May ever since. We don't get together during the summer because everyone is, of course, gardening. We meet at an "assisted living" apartment building near University Circle.

As you can imagine, this is pretty wild and crazy crowd. There is a cocktail hour, followed by a formal dinner and then a gardening presentation of some kind at the end of each meeting.

We are the Men's Garden Club but we have several women members. When we first opened the membership to women a few years ago we had 4 or 5 men resign in protest. They could not handle the change. The tension between their expectations and the innovation was too much to bear and they left.

Leonard Sweet in his book Soul Tsunami asks:

"What is the difference between a living thing and a dead thing? How do you tell one from the other?...In the medical world, a clinical definition of death is a body that does not change. Change is life. Stagnation is death. If you don't change - you die. It's that simple. It's that scary."

What was interesting to me at the time was that the oldest members of the club were not the ones who raised a stink. They thought it was about time we were more inclusive. They had the vision to see that if we did not change the club would eventually stagnate and die.

Just like the season of spring, change offers hope and renewal. Two things none of us can really live without.

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