Originally posted March 12, 2011, at Faith Formation. Republished with permission of the author.
Aunt Catherine loved the evolution from winter to spring. She watched for the robin, listened for the spring peepers and searched for the first snow drops.
She spoke enthusiastically about the shift from cabin fever to spring fever.
She would happily step outside her home to “blow the stink off,” and would take all of the pillows and comforters and rugs outside on the first sunny days to sun bleach and air fluff them (sometimes with the help of a rug beater — whack, whack, whack! — I loved to help her with that part!).
Along with all of those happy rituals came the (not so “happy”) spring tonics.
They were made with mysterious roots and leaves. Sometimes they had castor oil in them. They tasted horrible, but each family member was required to take a dose (and if it came back up you simply had to try again the next day!).
They were said to make the blood rise like sap in the maple trees in spring. In addition, they provided a cleansing of the colon, which continues to be a ritual many folks embrace.
I can remember Aunt Catherine taking her dose of tonic. She would take a deep breath and drink it down. She waited until it hit the bottom, (so she said) and then she would wink and quip, “ah … good for what ails ya!”
I guess that was supposed to make me want to take my tonic more enthusiastically, but it never worked. I always felt better before the tonic than after.
I kept telling her, “But nothing is ailing me!” She always said that it was better to be safe, than sorry. So take the concoction and cure whatever was just waiting to erupt into an ailment — nip it in the bud, so to speak!
We still are into spring tonics, although we don’t call them by that name.
Instead we talk about detoxifiers like acai berry (super fruit?).
We go on gluten-free diets. We use neti pots with saline solution to clean our noses, exfoliants to buff our skin, ear and eye washes, tongue scrapers and plaque remover.
In the end, we are squeaky clean inside and out, right?
None of this seems very glamorous, does it?
What if we take a look at a more poetic presentation of cleansing? After all, Lent is about soul cleansing isn’t it?
Try Psalm 51.
A clean heart. A renewed spirit. An inner being that has been purged of sin’s poisons. A life where we walk as new creations!
Good for what ails ya!
Find a link to Pamela Czarnota’s blog Faith Formation at Lutheran Blogs.