Monday, March 3, 2014

The Bridge Called Lent

We are anticipating another blast of cold air here in Fitzgerald, Georgia this week; it’s supposed to get all the way down to 39° one morning. “Cold” is relative, though. One day during one of our really cold snaps I sent a text to our son in Madison, Wisconsin telling him that it was cold in Fitzgerald; the low here was 29° that day. His response to me was that I should not talk to him about cold, given that the high in Madison that day was 12° below zero.

How cold has it been in Madison, Wisconsin this year? Well, Madison had twenty-three consecutive days of sub-freezing weather this winter. Madison has had almost ninety consecutive days—from early December until now—with at least one inch of snow on the ground.

Joshua is right—I shouldn’t talk to him about cold.

Still, it has been winter here, one effect of which is that aside from the pines and the evergreens, everything outside has looked pretty dead. Not long ago, my Good Wife and I were sitting in the den sipping coffee on a “cold” Saturday morning when I said that I needed to do some yard work but really didn’t want to do it. She replied that she wasn’t surprised because in the winter, no matter how much work you do, things aren’t going to look good when you finish.

That’s a wise woman I have there.

I have managed, though, to get out there the past couple of Saturdays to do some pruning and weeding and preparing. After all, the daffodils are blooming and the hydrangeas are budding and everything else won’t be far behind. It’s time to trim things back to make way for new growth, to dig up and discard dead things, and to prepare the ground for fresh planting—which brings me to Lent.

Lent, the forty-day period leading to Easter, is a time to pay some attention to ourselves, to reflect on our humanness and to repent of our sins. It’s a time, personally and spiritually speaking, to prune, to dig, and to prepare. Lent very appropriately bridges the seasons of winter and spring, the seasons of death and new life. Lent gives us the chance to deal with what is dying in us in the natural way of things as we move toward everlasting life and with what needs to die in us as we grow in the newness of life we have in Christ.

During Lent we have special opportunities to reflect, to repent, and to respond. It is helpful to adopt a daily discipline of prayerful Bible reading and reflection during which we open our lives up to God, asking for insight into the ways in which the Spirit would like to help us grow.

Soon, all the plants and trees that have been dormant will spring back to life.

We might as well join them …

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