We are now in the grip of February. All memory of the the festivities of Christmas and the New Year seem to have faded. This weekend we celebrated Valentine's Day. So all the days which break up the seeming endlessness of winter have passed. February has lost its luster and it is time to move on. It seems only fitting that tomorrow we begin the Christian observance of Lent. We begin with ashes and the reminder that we are people whose lives have always been shaped by earth, formed from earth. As we are marked with the ashes of last year's palm branches, we reaffirm ourselves to our birthright and to once again be shaped by the faith story of the Way of Jesus.
Most often we forget…if we ever knew….that the word Lent simply means 'to lengthen'. It stems from an old English word 'lenten' which most accurately is defined as 'spring', meaning the way in which the days of winter lengthen into the newness of spring. For the most part, in the church, we have lost that nuance. And yet, as we begin with the reminder of our connection to the earthiness of what it means to be human, and end these 40 days with Easter, the celebration of rebirth, it seems good to be reminded.
Over the next weeks we will clothe ourselves in the stories of Jesus and how he walked the earth forming relationships, healing people and living into the fullness of God's presence. The invitation of every Lent is to hear these scriptures in new ways, ways that will change us. As we do, without our even realizing it the snow that is piled higher than most of our cars, will begin to slowly melt. Buds will begin to be visible and the birds' songs we have missed will be heard once again. If we are intentional….or lucky….the sacred words will dig their way into us and plant seeds. We may be blessed to mirror the outside world…..melting, greening, birthing, growing.
But for now we continue to walk into the waning days of February with a furrowed brow. What will this Lent bring? How might it be different than others? What seeds are waiting to be planted in us this year? And what changes will we find in ourselves when Easter morning arrives?
Only time and the lengthening days will tell.