It seemed too early in the morning for the sky to be so ominous and yet as I sat in my favorite chair watching the world awaken outside my window, I could not help but notice the warning in the air. It appeared this first day of March would be roaring in as a lion. Ready or not a storm was coming and I could not help but think this was a fitting start to the first day of Lent – a season for the soul that holds its own sense of foreboding.
I have had the blessed grace of living in the two worlds of the church – liturgical and not. Each have beauty and good to give even if they find it difficult to give it to each other. We, in all our righteous humanity, always seem to get in the way and make the sharing hard. Having lived in both expressions of faith, I choose to hold tight to the truth from each but struggle not to consider one more holy.
We always want something to be best, don’t we? Yet, the problem resides in who is defining what is best – me, you or God. I bet you can guess which two don’t belong.
Lent is a season that ushers everyone into the holiest day of the Christian calendar – Easter. It is a season of ashes and fasting – physical reminders that our humanity is broken and wanting. The wearing of ashes has long been a biblical sign of mourning, repentance and humility. Lent simply reminds us it is never too late to wear your own ashes. It is a burden to own what we have long tried to hide and yet in this somber season there is blessedness in the mourning.
Many think the dark tone of this season is for the death of Christ but I would challenge the mourning is not for the coming cross of Good Friday but for our sin and culpability that nailed Christ on it. The blessedness comes in the repentance and the forgiveness the cross gave. Yet no matter how freely it gives, a heart must be ready to accept and to change.
As I watched through the window the sky turn dark and threatening, I could not help but feel a tumult rising within me. Lent comes, much like a storm, whether we are ready or not. In its murkiness we are challenged to linger a little longer in our own tempest, in our own mourning. It seeks to uncover the dark within us and so we can change our direction. Lent longs to make our hearts ready for the beauty that comes with Easter.
It doesn’t take long for the pounding rain and blowing wind of a storm to wash the dirt from the air and the earth – everything smells and looks cleaner afterwards. It is a purification of sorts. We, in our humanity, need a cleansing downpour. Lent can be the storm that purifies us. We can watch it through the window but in doing so, we will remain dirty. We have to enter in and stand in the downpour if we want a washing to come.
So here is the question. How will you enter into Lent this year? Whether you are liturgical or not, it really doesn’t really matter. The real concern is will you watch from the window or will you stand in the storm?
Easter is coming – ready or not.