Blossoms & The End of Winter
During Lent, we are invited to let go of all of the things that are keeping us from being our best and truest selves, and to take up practices that will enable us to live more fully into God's purposes for our lives.
Lent is also a time when we get the opportunity to consider our own frailty, the brevity of life, and the importance of trust in God's resurrection story.
But Lent is first and foremost a season of dying and rising.
This time of year is a season of paradoxes. On the one hand, winter hasn't let go of its grip entirely---at least where I live in Central Texas.
But because there have also been days of sun and warm weather, trees are blossoming, and there's a slight green tinge to my previously brown and dormant lawn.
There's a cold wind blowing this morning, and the skies are grey, though.
It may freeze in a few days, and my son told me that he's worried about the tree in my front yard that is bursting with blossoms and with more ready to bloom. He wants the tree to bloom in all of its beauty in fragrance.
I do, too.
I've been thinking about the grief that I've been carrying with me over all the losses of the past couple of years. I've also been missing my mom, who passed away over four years ago.
Like my son, I want the tree to bloom unimpeded by another nasty, rainy, cold snap. He's not old enough to articulate why he feels that way, but I know that feeling all too well.
It's a longing for a world made new--a longing for a new life, a new purpose, and a new way of seeing and believing. It's a longing for the kind of hope that resurrection brings.
But that longing is tempered by the dread of late winter, the sadness of loss, and the icy grip of grief on our hearts.
Some weeks ago, I read a wonderful poem on dying and rising by the 13th-century poet Rumi, and I've been reading it nearly every day since. I think I knew that I would use it during Lent, but until today I didn't know exactly how.
On the day I die,
When I am being carried toward the grave,
Don’t weep. Don’t say “He’s gone. He’s gone.”
Death has nothing to do with going away
The sun sets and the moon sets
But they’re not gone.
Death is a coming together.
The tomb looks like a prison,
But it's really release into union.
The human seed goes into the ground
Like a bucket into the well where Joseph is.
It grows and comes up
Full of some unimagined beauty.
Your mouth closes here
And immediately opens
With a shout of joy there.
I can't tell you how much I need this poem today. My heart has been heavy lately. And I'm afraid to trust the signs of hope that are springing up around me. But this preaches to my soul.
Let it preach to yours---especially if you have had enough of winter of discontent, burdens of grief, weariness in your step, and dread in your heart over what travails may come.
May it be so, and may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.