It was a gorgeous day in the St. Louis area Saturday – had that ‘first day of spring’ kind of feel to it. Bright sunshine, balmy temperatures. The perfect day to do that deep pruning on the landscaping out front.
By the time I was done, I was surprised at how much yard waste the project had generated. I knew the bushes were overgrown – but 12 bags’ worth of branches, thorns and stems? It made for an impressive pile at the curb (and I whispered a prayer of gratitude for the guy who would haul it all away for us this week.)
Now, if you’ve been following along, you may recall that I attached a certain amount of Lenten symbolism to this particular home-improvement project. What things, like my overgrown yews, are preventing other, more fruitful things from entering into my life?
And: Let’s make this holy season a time when I seek the grace to take care of them, once and for all.
In a very real sense, then, Saturday’s beautiful weather was a gift from God to me. I hope the rest of you enjoyed it, too. But it was truly special for me – a chance to get the bushes trimmed, before Easter, and to consider the other ways that God has been working in my life throughout these 40 days.
There have been ups and downs, to be sure. Joys and heartaches. Surprises, too: Extraordinary little gifts from the Holy One that no one in the world (except perhaps for my dear wife Gerri) might fully appreciate.
And then came Sunday.
Less than 17 hours after I hauled the last of my yard waste bags to the curb, it began to snow.
This is March 24th, mind you: Half-a-week into spring in the northern hemisphere…and a week away from Easter. Still, there was snow. And not just a few timid flakes – but a veritable blizzard. Nearly a foot of snow by the time the storm had passed.
So when I looked out the window this morning, God had yet another surprise in store for me: My Lenten rubbish, still stacked at the curb, but now covered in a luxuriously deep, pure, white blanket.
All the world is covered, too, I suppose – or at least, our little corner of it.
Still, it took my breath away, to consider what a great gift the Lord had in store for me this Lent. What a great gift God offers to all of us – the chance to take our rubbish to the curb, and then have it transformed into something beautiful. Something we never would have expected. Something that – at first glance – might seem impossible.
While I’m not exactly sure how to respond to God’s gift, Psalm 57 seems like a good place to start:
My heart is ready, O God
My heart is ready.
I will sing, I will sing your praise.
Awake, my soul!
Awake, lyre and harp!
I will awake the dawn!
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