Saturday, February 16, 2013


Spring is coming.  I am feeling a bit ironic as I write this, since I am sitting in front of a window watching the snow falling.  I live in a place where snow is rare and exciting, and I wouldn't have it any other way (on both counts).  But, still, it will be warm before we know it, flowers will bloom, and my students will decide it is tanks-and-shorts-weather.  There are things I like about each season, but I think most people really look forward to spring each year.

I have already been out in the yard, working.  This is our first year of owning "a bit of earth" as Mary says in The Secret Garden.  When we lived in our apartment, I longed for a yard.  Last weekend, I raked out flower beds and set out bulbs.  Yesterday, we took advantage of the warmer weather and completed some epic tasks: transplanting a crepe myrtle, a dogwood tree, and a small magnolia, as well as pruning all the crepe myrtles.  It was very hard, messy labor, but I loved it.  And, even though all our work is being currently covered over with a blanket of snow, I know that beneath the soil, the plants are getting ready.

Spring is a time of preparation.  For Christians, we prepare to celebrate Easter.  Although many of us, especially in Protestant churches, don't give the days before Easter as much thought as we do about the weeks leading up to Christmas, I certainly think that this is a perfect time for reflection.  This year, I am working through an Easter devotional recently published by my friend Kirsten, called Consider the Cross: Devotions for Lent.  It contains 40 days of devotions that reflect on the last week of Jesus's life before the crucifixion.  What I appreciate about the book is that although it is not a heavy, exegetical study, it is a serious reflection that asks some really intriguing questions.  The goal, as a Christian, is to always know Christ better, and this allows for such an intimate look at this point in His life.  I will be doing a more in-depth review later on, but right now, if you are interested in adding an Easter devotional to your day, you should certainly check this out.

Lent is an interesting word, by the way.  If you are Baptist, like me, you might view the word with a bit of suspicion.  Growing up, my only exposure to the concept was hearing Methodist friends discussing what they were "giving up" for Lent.  At a conference last year, a fellow panelist offered me the cookie that came with our box lunches, explaining he had given them up as a Lenten vow.  "Sure, thanks," I said, "I'm Baptist, we eat our cookies all year."

The word lent comes from an Old English word for spring (actually from a word that means "lengthen"--as the days get longer in spring.)  The word was adopted in the Middle Ages by the church to indicate this period of preparation during which many people fasted, prayed, and reflected on the Cross.  While I am not planning on giving up cookies this year, I do think that observing a period of reflection is a good idea, no matter what denomination you are from.

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