Tuesday, March 8, 2011

This Lent

I walk in a different direction today to surge with rising waters. The rain has gathered and flows on through creeks and rivers. I want to enfold in that swelling, the fullness of Spring and rebirth.

I walk with animals this morning: a frisky puppy, a most affectionate kitten, and a patient mature dog; rock solid, he is- the most amazing dog ever.

Puppy tangles in leash befuddling eager steps. He stops me here- at this place I need to be. Thorns sear sky blue and pierce my thoughts. Earth flows and swells and thorns crown all this beauty.

Lent begins on Wednesday, and Lord where do you want to bring me in those forty days? How do I get there? To You? How can this tangle of thorns unfurl  life's blossom?

Light stirs on hurried water, and He flows in me. I feel God's presence, His awesome power, His majesty.
I am enraptured by Creation...and this moment. This prism of loveliness and all things good.

I delight in all life leaping and chanting "Spring!"

 Then a moment of panic: the kitten. The kitten! He
followed me down here and he is nowhere to be seen. I search frantically for him and look up to see Roy, our  yellow lab, standing in the middle of the lane. Usually he comes bounding along with me, so I was surprised to see him just standing there.

I call and call him, but he will not budge. He is the most obedient dog I have ever known, so this too catches me off guard. He is immovable, a soldier standing resolute. 

Then I notice something else.

He had been waiting.....for the kitten.  My little lost kitten, lost to me in my giddy revelry. But Roy knew. And he silently waited, not in a hurry. As soon as Mittens (the kitten) caught up, Roy came too.

In that instant, in the tender gesture of an animal, I knew the answer. It became clear to me what I need to do this Lent.


I think of bygone Lents and of my attitude coming into Lent. What can I do for God? What can I give up? What do I need to do?

It's been all about me. I think I'm being holy by giving up coffee or sweets , not that those things aren't good to give up. It's all in the intention. Isn't it strange how God reveals himself in the simplest of ways? Seeing my dog standing there waiting, I realized that the reason we give things up during Lent is to empty ourselves out for the filling of God. We do not unite ourselves to Christ in suffering by giving up sweets. We unite our souls to God, partake in his suffering by waiting . Waiting patiently and having faith that like the Spring, CHRIST WILL COME AGAIN!

We need to hollow and wait. Hollow and wait. Empty vessels, waiting to be filled.

I walk back to the barn to feed the chickens. There is a little girl waiting for me in a doorway.

She is cold, and she shivers. "Mommy I was waiting for you. Do you want me to help you feed the chickens?"

"Yes, lovely. You always wait for Mama don't you? You know the secret."

"What secret, Mommy? I love secrets."

"Let's feed the chickens, and then I'll show you ."

"Can you show me the secret now, Mommy?"

"Follow me into the barn."

She reaches her dimpled hand in to scoop up eggs, the first of the year, and she holds that secret in her hand: the mystery of waiting, the mystery of resurrection. Fresh life nestled in straw, promise of birth.

I look on starkness, a vulnerable landscape just waking from Winter's sleep and it's always the longest wait when it's almost over. But I know the secret now, too. I know what will happen if I only trust and wait.