Winter isn’t quite ready to let go, is it?
In springtimes past, a blast of warmth would settle in like an early alarm and in mere hours winter faded into memory. The natural world was instantly alive with tiny rivers rolling through the neighbourhood while golden rays raised new blades of grass and nudged the bearded irises awake. Bumble bees began to bumble and ants poked their heads out to see what all the fuss was about.
This year our late freeze is reluctant to relinquish its dominance. Crunchy deep snow remains in shadows where the temperature remains barely above freezing even when the sun is shining. The melt feels more methodical and calculated, with stubbornly chilly overnight temperatures keeping the ice and snow in place and modest daytime sunshine slowly shrinking the piles in the places it can reach.
We went for a walk near sunset yesterday and watched thin layers of ice form on the surface of the daytime puddles as the temperature dipped below freezing. Frozen diamonds stretched across the surface of the water, settling in for the night. We knew that in the morning we’d hear the water run again, but for now the world goes back to sleep when darkness falls.
We’re winter-weary, but we live in a place where spring snow brings the moisture we need for our growing season. It’s a mixed blessing, really, when March flurries begin to fly. We know the snow won’t stay, so we sigh and pull on our boots and hats one more time before heading out into the spring chill. One last round of tobogganing, one last cup of hot chocolate, one last winter memory before the muddy season.
Hope remains, though. The days are getting warmer and the spring sun is doing its annual work of revelation, displaying what’s been laying under layers and layers of late February snow. Rocks that need to be removed from the grass. Trash that blew into the yard before the snow flew. Decomposing pinecones and leaves from fall.
The ugly things.
One afternoon, after basking in the glorious sunshine pouring into our front room, I looked out the window to see an old coffee cup lid laying on the flat, brown lawn. Clearly it had been there for weeks, buried under the snow. The sun had melted the snow away, leaving it behind.
It was ugly.
Easter is near now. With a yawn and a stretch, the world is slowly waking. Is my heart waking too? Do I find that I am moved by the things of God? Or is there a layer of icy self-protection? Is sin hardening my heart and weighing me down?
What ugliness will the warmth of the Holy Spirit reveal in me?
“Not everything has to be a life lesson,” a friend joked to me several weeks ago.
“I can’t help it! It’s how I see the world,” I laughed in return.
Ordinary everyday life pricks my heart with parallels to the spiritual. I learn lessons from garbage laying on the lawn. Like a dirty, discarded coffee cup lid, sin lies hidden from view until the Holy Spirit does His revealing work in our hearts, melting away the denial and self-deception that prevents us from growing and thriving in His image.
Lord, do your work in me. Though it is painful, I surrender to Your gentle formation of my heart. Break the chains that bind me and the banish pride that blinds me.
This Easter season, wake me up to the truth that the cross isn’t just for everyone else – it’s for me.
Wake me up to your grace and goodness. Wake me up to your deep, incomparable love. Wake me up to the forgiveness and freedom You bring by Your death and resurrection. Wake me up, Lord, not only so that I benefit, but so that those You have placed in my life will bask in the glow of Your love poured out through me.
Soften my heart so that I might love others the way You have first loved me.
1 John 4:9-11 NIV
“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”
(image: Patti Black/Unsplash)