Will the Ground Ever Thaw?
As I completed my morning time with God today, I began to think about the last year. As an optimist, I generally focus on what we have gained in the last year. There have been some truly extraordinary experiences of God’s grace that have sustained us through this time. These experiences are worthy of celebration. However, this morning I was in a different frame of mind. I have been reflecting on what we have lost and missed in the last year. It feels to me as though it has been a long, cold winter. Perhaps it is the longest ‘winter’ of our life. I don’t think it is a simple matter of the sheer magnitude of what we have lost. Loss is a constant in the human experience. What is different about this long, COVID winter is that many of the experiences and tools that we might normally employ to process our loss have been largely unavailable to us. As an example, as loved ones have died over the last year, the inability to safely gather to celebrate their life and say good-bye has taken its toll. Just as long, cold winters can leave the ground hardened and impacted, the last year of COVID separations have left our lives and spirits hardened.
Spring IS Coming
Through the cracks in the hardened soil of our souls, green shoots of new growth and new possibility are emerging. The hard work of many is having a dramatic impact on the transmission and lethality of the coronavirus. From vaccine researchers to policy makers to health care workers to folks like you and me who wear masks and keep distance, this winter may, indeed, be coming to an end. While it is true that we won’t be able to regain what we’ve lost in this last year, familiar experiences will be reimagined, accounting for what we’ve learned. From this learning and growth, a new normal will emerge. With this new normal will be new experiences of grace that will enrich and fulfill our lives in ways we couldn’t have previously imagined. Tempered by the experience of loss, there is a day of renewal and new life on the horizon. Just as we rehearse through the season of Lent to the joy of Easter morning, we are reminded again that life will always spring forth from the tomb. Whatever burdens us, hardens us or separates will give way to God’s relentless power and desire to bring resurrection and new life.
Doing Our Part
One thing I love about this time of year is the citrus harvest. How many of us with citrus trees in our yard have, in the last few years, had more citrus than we could possibility eat? We end up bagging the excess crop and sharing it with anyone who wants it. This image of abundant harvest is a core Scriptural image to describe the Beloved Community, what Jesus refers to as the “Kingdom” of God. This abundant harvest of grace is realized in acts of love, mercy, compassion and reconciliation that we share with others, out of the abundance of grace that we have received in our life. This abundant harvest is made possible when we become the fertile soil for that grace to be planted. When we break up the hardness, pick out the weeds, rocks and thorns that are part of our experience in the world our soil is enriched. The season of Lent is a gift to us. It is a time to pause, reflect and to open our life to the possibility that God has in store for each of us. Join us this Sunday and each Sunday in Lent as we do our part in the harvest of grace that God seeks to bring.