While taking a walk on a beautiful spring Sunday, I ran into the neighbor girls digging in the dirt.
“Hi, ladies,” I called cheerfully. They enthusiastically explained their activity. The skeletal remains of a baby rabbit had been discovered in the open window well by their basement. Funeral preparations were in progress.
“Oh, that’s too bad,” I commiserated. Apparently, other dead things, smaller and of less value, had been found trapped in the window cavity. Poor little creatures were unable to hop high enough to escape. Must be a horrible death, I thought silently.
I told them that one spring my husband had discovered a baby bunny in our window well, in time to scoop him up with a shovel. The bunny had energetically hopped away, no worse for wear.
I was happy to tell them this good news, as I’d already had to tell them, on an earlier walk, that our dog had died in winter.
“Where’s Sunny?” they had hollered the first time I saw them after winter. I assured them she was old and had died peacefully. Petting Sunny was the neighborhood kids’ custom when we went for our summer walks.
Emerging from winter into a neighborhood suddenly alive with people is a ritual of spring. Sometimes, we have losses to share. I think it’s comparable to emerging from the cocoon of Lent into the brightness of Easter.
Welcoming warmth and new life is inexorably a part of Easter.
Some of us begin our Lenten journey huddled in winter coats. For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, Lent starts in cold and darkness. The encroaching light is barely starting to register.
We’re tired of winter on Ash Wednesday, but we know we have a cold, dark journey ahead, comparable to the journey we are taking into our faults and failings, our spiritual neediness, as we begin the weeks of Lent.
But slowly, the light returns. We begin to spot dust in places in our house we hadn’t noticed for a while, as spring sunlight pours through windows, smudgy and mud-pocked from winter storms.
“Wow, do those windows need washing!” How often have we said that in the spring?
Hopefully, as Lent has progressed, we’ve seen things illuminated in our faith lives as well. We see dust in our spiritual lives where we haven’t bothered to look lately. Maybe we haven’t checked out our interior window wells during the winter and we’re not crazy about what we discover there. Maybe the winters of our lives have left us with loss and sadness.
But the light is so energizing, isn’t it? It makes us want to clean. It makes us feel alive and ready to make progress. And that’s what Lent should do for us as well. It should remind us that the light of Christ is bigger and brighter than our sin, bigger than the sorrows we experience in our inevitable winters.
Easter speaks of renewal, rebirth, second chances, and bold and bright light.
Sometimes we wish we had done more during Lent. Maybe we weren’t as diligent, as sacrificial, as prayerful as we’d hoped. But we need to remind ourselves that we aren’t the ones who “do.”
We turn to the sunshine and the robins and the thawing of the stone cold earth and ask again only to be open to the grace offered by the resurrected Christ, the light that shines through the darkness of all our winters.