Snow is falling thickly outside today, on the first day of lent. I smile when I think of the book titles tying lent and spring-time together, because from where I sit right now, spring seems like it's a million years away. Winter surrounds us in a way that has not been seen in Kentucky for many many years. I think there's more snow this year than I've ever seen in the more than 20 years I've called this State home.
I was reflecting the other day on the significance of Christ's resurrection, and what it means for our every day lives. Because part of me, the broken and depressed part no doubt, hears the proclamation "Christ is risen!" and my internal response is "So what?"
What IS the significance of the resurrection of Christ? Is it merely a historical "happened long ago" fact that means there's a nice Church for me to go to in Sundays, and a beautiful liturgy for me to participate in? There is that, but there's also way more. I'm not saying it well, since I can barely formulate a thought around here without being beaned in the head by elasticized home-made stress balls (you'd have to be here to know) or interrupted by exclamations over the new cut baby leaves sprouting on a house plant. But anyway...what was I saying?
Oh yes. I think my understanding of lent and pascha is being formed through my journey of pain. I'm not talking, right now, about physical pain, per-se, although a few years back that was a big part of my journey. Right now what I'm going through is the anguish of seeing my child suffer. Where is the hope in that? Life seems full of grief and sadness, doesn't it?
And Christ's resurrection is not a guarantee that on this side of eternity she'll be healed, or that my life will suddenly be materially blessed. But it's in the redemption of suffering and the fact that death and suffering have been transformed by God into the portal of life...that is my hope. And that is also my experience. There is comfort to be found in Christ this side of heaven, for sure. His holy icon that says "Come to me all ye that are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest." The words "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Stuff like that. This is the good news.
We have not been abandoned by God in our suffering and in our deaths. And the fact of the resurrection is precisely what enables us Christians to take up our own crosses and follow Christ to Golgatha, to walk towards our own crucifixions (whatever they may look like.)
My prayer is that for all of us, dear readers, this lenten season will strengthen us on this life-long journey of ours. Jesus is our only hope and he loves us so much. It may be winter now, but spring time is coming! This may be the valley of the shadow of death, but Christ is risen! Blessed Lent, y'all!