March 9, 2011

Ash Wednesday

The snow is finally melting, but it is still about a foot deep in parts of my yard. In contrast to when it was newly fallen, now it is dirty, marked by soot and grime. As it melts, it exposes what has been hidden and forgotten all winter. I see again the tools from the little remodeling project that did not quite get finished. The birdbath has resurfaced, as have my little bench and the bottle tree. There are sticks and limbs and general yard debris, all buried for months. Down the street, a manger scene is being uncovered day by day, Mary and Joseph sticking out of the snow bank first, and then the Baby, slowly being revealed. Christmas trees put out for recycling are still by the curb, uncovered and finally able to be picked up and sent on to a new purpose.

And today is the beginning of Lent. The word “lent” means spring, that elusive season that we are just beginning to feel, however tentatively. And I think that the melting snow of spring is like the work of Lent. All that I used to cover my unfinished business and debris and old decorations, all that seemed so white and shiny at first, is melting away. All the beautiful defenses that I use to hide my sin disappear in the practice of Lent, and everything is exposed to the bright light of a new season of forgiveness. As the ashes and soot fall into the ground when the snow is gone, so the dirt of my own life, the accumulation of days and weeks – months and years – will also be transformed into new life.

And in the midst of all the melting away, the Christ is being revealed, too – long hidden, forgotten in the midst of the storms, out of sight but now exposed and visible. And the new encounter with that Christ is what cleanses and restores all the life that has been hidden away in the futile attempt to cover up, hide, and forget sin.

Something else: The daffodils are starting to come up. The pussy willows are fat and fluffy. And I remember the garlic and the strawberries and the black-eyed Susans that I have planted in past seasons, warm and waiting for the moment to emerge. Spring is coming. New life is possible. Lent is hope. And may God resurrect all the good that has been planted, all that is waiting to bring nourishment and beauty and joy.

No comments: