I have always loved the concept of the Renaissance man; a polymath as exemplified by the great thinkers of 14th through 17th Century Europe. Easter whether you are Christian or pagan worshipping the Goddess Oestra is also significant for its themes of ascension and renaissance (re-birth). As a boy growing up in Wales, the fields full of daffodils and lambs were evidence of the natural cycle of things, spring is a time of rejuvenation and renewal. This was magnified a hundred fold in Alaska where spring is known as break up, a period of a few days where the monochrome of snow cover is displaced by the vivid color of buds and wildflowers blooming rather like a speeded up time lapse sequence. Now back in Colorado I gaze at the azure sky framed by the already green trees, with colorful bulbs bursting out of the ground and the blooms of magnolia unfolding like precious pink purses. I feel the warmth of the sun and I feel fortunate. Spring is a time to be reverent. It is also a time to meditate on this concept of change that out of the ashes of winter a phoenix can rise.
Today sitting in a beautifully simple church with the dappled light of stain glass and the warmth of the wood, I was struck by a thought. To become a polymath we need to have a multitude of renaissances. Each spring is a time to reinvent ourselves, to add another string to our bow. By picking up new skills and acquiring new knowledge we follow in the tradition of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Galileo Galilei, Francis Bacon, Johann Goethe, Isaac Newton and Copernicus. When science was shaped by the shift in thinking and art we saw a meteoric jump in the potential of humanity. If we allow this same open-ness into our own consciousness then our potential is phenomenal. An ancestor of mine John Harrison helped measure Longitude by inventing accurate time pieces, this in turn allowed accurate navigation over large tracts of ocean. His doggedness is a wonderful story told beautifully by Dava Sobel in Longitude if you like historical literature. It strikes me it is worth meditating on the domino effect of our own renaissances big and small.