Winter's Loosening Grip
This past week, winter seems to have been losing its grip. Successive days of snowfall whitened up the entire region, but bitter cold temperatures were limited only to the darkest hours of the night. Temperatures have been hovering a couple of degrees above and below zero. Dawns are rising earlier, and dusk is illuminating the skies past six. The roads have been mostly dry, and the ditches and drains have been filled, as the wind and sun have quietly been busy melting and evaporating the snow. Winter is losing its grip. It’s like the grip of raw emotions, a bad habit, a dark cloud of depression, or addiction, that seems to control our entire being. A heart in bondage shuts everyone out. Unsatisfying choices continue to be made day after day. Isolation helps one stay in the protection of darkness. Sleep seems to be fleeting, feelings are emotionless, and energy seems frozen. Then, the spirit wound, the lousy habit, the bleak outlook, or constant craving begins losing its grip. The sun’s power replenishes, winds refresh, weariness melts and renewal rekindles’ joy. The season of lent turns our eyes towards Jesus and invites us to journey toward his cross. The unpleasant narrative of Jesus is a cruel ending to a crude story that celebrates his crucifixion. We still find our lives wrapped up in that story. Journeying towards the cross has tangible ways that loosen sin’s grip. Lent invites us into the spiritual discipline of repentance, knowing our sins and naming them, bringing them before his cross. Lent invites us into the spiritual discipline of fasting; doing without food, without alcohol, without sweets, without our daily doses of caffeine; for a period of cleansing. Lent invites us into the spiritual discipline of righteousness, helping random acts of kindness become automatic gestures of gratitude. Lent invites us into the spiritual discipline of prayer; conversing with God in the morning and the evening, before a meal and in thanksgiving after each meal. The season of Lent has served the Christian church in helping loosen sin’s grip on our lives, and joining us into Christ’s crucifixion and his resurrection from the dead. Winter is loosening its grip, ushering in fresh winds of renewal and rebirth.