It has been a particularly gray and wet fall/winter/early spring here in the Pacific Northwest. We have had so little consistent sun recently that every time we do get a glimpse of it, B exclaims emphatically: “It’s TOO BRIGHT!! I want the rain back!” Honestly, I’m not sure if I should be proud or worried. ;)
The clouds and the rain have played very well into our Lenten experience. Lent is a time for all Christians to reflect on Jesus’ love for us and the ultimate sacrifice He made to save our souls. As Catholics, we practice fasting and abstinence from eating meat on Ash Wednesday and Friday’s during Lent. Most of us also commit to giving up something during this special season, as a reminder of the sacrifices made and as a way to turn our eyes toward God (rather than self indulgence).
Last year, I shared how I was spiritually limping into Holy Week. I felt totally unprepared for the heaviness of the week and the full impact of embracing Easter. This Lenten season, it feels as if I have been waiting with baited breath. It’s interesting what difference one year makes. One whole year. I’m no longer the mom of a toddler and a baby, I have two toddlers (one preschooler and one toddler, really). We have all done a lot of growing, stretching, maturing, searching, and [insert your relevant verb here], these past several months. Maybe I have learned to lean into my spiritual weaknesses a little more, or perhaps I’ve just grown accustomed to the craziness of having two kids and feeling like life is moving at lightning-fast speed.
Here’s the thing: We know that Easter is coming. We know that there is a joyous celebration waiting for us at the end of our Lenten journey. We also recognize the significance of what must happen before we can celebrate: remembering the last supper, the betrayal of a dear friend and the mourning Jesus’ death by crucifixion.
God loves us, guys. He really, really loves us. No matter how many times I hear it, read it or speak it, it still blows my mind when I think about the His unconditional love. Of all the lessons I’ve learned over the past year, I think that is the most significant one of all. I am finally starting to accept the fact that there is nothing I could do to make Him love me any more, or less, than He already does. Nothing. What sweet relief it is to realize that I don’t have to try so dang hard to impress Him. It is with that realization that I’m entering this week with a sense of renewed hope. Hope in the resurrection. Hope in new life. Hope that things will get better. Hope in Him.
I imagine this feeling of renewed hope is similar to how most of us in the PNW are currently feeling. We’re anxiously awaiting the warmer weather and sunny days. Despite the gray we are experiencing, signs of spring are popping up everywhere. Most notably, the cherry blossoms in our area have just exploded. You can’t drive anywhere in Seattle without seeing a tree shrouded in some shade of white or pink on the side of the road. The images in this post, for example, were taken in a Kohl’s parking lot! Not kidding! I have learned that there are several different types of cherry trees, and they are all stunning in their own way. Some grow wild and unruly, others are pruned to perfection.
The caveat to these beautiful trees regardless of how they grow, is that their colorful blooms are brilliant only for a couple of weeks and then they are gone. Their beauty is fleeting. They stick around just long enough to give us a gentle reminder that the warmth of mid-spring and summer is coming. Stay positive and have hope, because we are almost there. We are almost through the gray. The sun is coming. And He will rise.
Paige and I have missed sharing our hearts with you these past several months. We are excited to begin writing again.