Spring, rapidly approaching, is a reminder of life renewed. Green buds appear overnight on trees looking, for all intents and purposes, dead. The harbingers stick their heads bravely up into the still cold morning air and defy the winter chill to hold back the spring. Daffodils and irises trumpet the glory to come with a flash and dash of their own. Tulips and hyacinths add to the riotous beauty that shouts the soon arrival of life after death.
It does not take too many days of cold weather to begin to count the days until warmth returns. We have been trained to comfort’s sliding scale. What, in another time and place, would have been greeted with shirt-sleeved walks around the park, is now reason enough to put another log on the fire and hunker down against the hostile elements! And then, one quick day, the sun shine calls us out of darkness into glorious light! We can hardly wait. In fact, we have been trained to hardly wait. Waiting is as good as death to us. To wait is to let things be – to enter into the mystery of what we can not control.
Lent is a season of embraced waiting – of choosing to be still and know the certainty of needed dying; of not rushing to light so quickly that we miss the treasures in the dark – and the light; of not longing so much for new life, resurrection life, that we miss the moments on the way, the stations on the side of the road that call for a certain, stillness in order to reflect, in order to enter in fully.
We do this in hope that once again life will triumph over death. Not the hope of our culture that is a weak wish, but the substantial hope that stands with certainty on the bedrock of faith. Only those who have been trained to life can deal comfortably and unhurriedly with death. Those living uncertainly find death a constant threat and so hurry over every reminder, like a boy racing over a frozen pond thinking that speed will keep him above water.
The leisurely stroll that is lent takes its toll on the false life, on the parasitic life, on the plastic life, that is no life at all. Such lifes can not stand slow. It finds them out sooner rather than later. Silk flowers in winter gardens fool only those driving by – not those whose pace slows to a walk.
And so, we walk and notice, inhaling the fragrance of promise while not giving in to the temptation to force life from death. Which, come to think of it, is not our business anyway.