I keep telling people that I moved to the Great White North.
The winter in Oklahoma has been brutal at times. I’m sure many other parts of the country have had more winter precipitation, but I’m not used to this much. Our schedules have been disrupted, with multiple cancellations of school and church meetings. I’m really hoping the round of ice we got this week is the last one.
It feels like spring is dragging its feet on its way to us. Both my body and my mind ache for the warming thaw. I am worn out by the dim winter and long for the new life of spring.
A thousand miles away spring is in full swing. Men in short sleeves run around on green fields in both Florida and Arizona, preparing for a long summer of work. And about this time of year, as I gingerly navigate the ice on the sidewalks, my jealousy is aroused.
Spring Training begins around the middle of February, just as my patience with winter is thinning. These men gather for around 6 weeks of practice before the real games begin in April. While I’m cuddled up in blankets, they are running around in the sunshine.
But if you ask the players, it gets old pretty quickly. It’s not long before the practices and drills and meaningless games become a chore rather than a blessing. Spring Training seems like on long stretching out before the real season begins. So they begin to pine for Opening Day when the real baseball begins.
This is the way of our world. We’re always anticipating the payoff; our eyes always focused on our destination.
Every time I enter Lent, I have anticipation about what the season will bring. I have my plan for how I will engage with God during these 40 days and approach it with energy and expectation.
And then about halfway through, I am wondering when it will be over. The reading and praying and practices can seem to stretch out and I get tired of its monotony. And I begin to long for the end and the celebration of Easter.
It’s so easy to take my eyes off the path and long for the destination.
But the beauty of spring is magnified by the dark slumber of winter.
And Opening Day is made exciting by the long anticipation of spring training.
Lent in itself is not a destination, but a path to something greater. But it cannot be rushed. We must work our way through the death and depravation of Lent to truly appreciate the joy of Easter.
So my goal as we begin this season together is to walk slowly. To not rush through the paces as we travel the road to Easter and resurrection. Because the beauty of the destination will be made starker by the longing of this road.
May we all walk slowly the road of Lent.