On a warm sunny day earlier this week I spotted the first crocuses of the season. Not in my yard, but blooming near a warm southern wall and next to the warmth of a sidewalk. It isn’t unusual in Denver to spot the first bulbs blooming mid-way through February. The bright yellow crocus blooms made me happy. And as an avid walker, I have to admit that I definitely prefer walking in 60 degree weather to 30 degree weather!
After that warm day, the wind came up the next day and brought in a cold front. We even had a skiff of snow last night in Denver. I have to say that I’m glad for a little more winter. The plants need a longer dormant period, and we definitely need the moisture of snow – here in Denver and most importantly in the mountains, to fill the reservoirs for the year. Yes – winter and dormancy are actually good, even when we long for warmer days.
As winter continues in the calendar and weather, so it continues in the spiritual realm as well. We are in the season of Lent, that period of waiting and preparation leading up to the miracle of Easter. While the word “Lent” comes from the same root word as “Spring” in Old English, it is actually is a spiritual season more akin to winter than spring. There is a sense of darkness and cold, of the hidden life. During Lent we examine the nature of our lives apart from God and our need to turn towards his love – for the redemption that he offers. Lent beckons me to explore the hidden places in my heart, and to admit my need and darkness.
Henri Nouwen reflects on the hidden nature of Lent in this excerpt from Sabbatical Journey:
Jesus stressed the hidden life. Whether we give alms, pray, or fast, we are to do it in a hidden way, not to be praised by people but to enter into closer communion with God. Lent is a time of returning to God. It is a time confess how we keep looking for joy, peace and satisfaction in the many people and things surrounding us, without really finding what we desire. Only God can give us what we want.
So during this continuing winter season, we want to believe that there is growth occurring in the hidden places, in our hearts, and in the bulbs pushing up through the dark soil. Growth that we must wait to see in the warmth and light of spring. It’s still winter – the hidden time of waiting, reflection, anticipation … the dark, cold days that build our faith as we hope for spring.
Photo of hyacinth pushing up through remnants of snow is from my yard. – as is the flagstone patio which is mostly shaded, so the flower beds around it hold snow longer. I love the pattern of snow on the flagstone.