The last two days have been a welcome relief from this long winter we have been having. Stan Finger in the Wichita Eagle, blogged last week that this is a historical winter. Since recording temperatures in Wichita it the last 1880's, there are never been a winter where we have not hit sixty degrees. As of today, we still have not gotten there yet.
Part of what has made this winter so long for me has been the unrelenting fog and grayness. I do not really mind the cold, but I need, I crave sunlight. While I enjoy the fog for its mystery, the day in and day out fogginess and remaining grayness truly began to wear on my soul.
Today, however, I had an opportunity to work with my husband on the outside of the house. There were a few spots that need some scraping and some touch up paint. While waiting for the primer to dry, I made a cup of tea and sat on the deck with my face toward the sun. I have not sat outside in the sun since last November. I walked out to the garden and noted that the chives are beginning to poke up through the brown grass. In the front, the tulips are beginning to send up some leaves. The days are getting longer. While it is still chilly, the warmth is beginning to creep back.
In the Christian tradition we are in the season of Lent. For western Christians it is a forty day period (not including Sundays) that leads up to Easter. Often words are used to describe this season as "long, dark, penitential, sober, somber" a time of penance and fasting. The final days of Lent are focused on Jesus' last hours before his crucifixion.
What is interesting about this convergence of weather change and liturgical season is the meaning of the word Lent. Lent means "spring". That's it. No huge deep philosophical or theological meaning. Spring, lent means spring.
In some ways the season of lent has been difficult for me. I have not problem focusing on the "evil" in the world. It takes very little time to find examples of our inhumanity to one another, or injustice at work. However, as the days get longer and warmer and the green erupts from the ground, it becomes harder for me to be somber. I want to be outside, enjoying the sun and the energy and the new life. Focusing on grayness, on penance and on fasting when the bounty of spring is erupting is almost beyond what I am capable of.
Perhaps, Lent is a preparation for the joy that spring brings. Maybe, if I was willing to really do the hard work of penance, of weeding and cleaning out the weeds and the clutter in the garden of my soul, it would be ready for the sunlight, the love and the life offered through the Easter experience.
So I will try and hold my heart and soul in patience as I walk these lean days of Lent. I will focus on ridding myself of whatever is not helpful or hopeful. Then, when Easter comes, my heart and my spirit will be ready to burst forth in new life and energy.
I remain Graced to Serve.