I love Lent. I also love Spring. I love watching early Spring flowers—crocuses, irises, tulips—as they begin to break through dirty snow, dark muddy soil, rotting leaves. They are glimmers of hope cracking open the gloom of winter. But, you can’t rush Spring. It is easy for me to get impatient. One beautiful Spring day may be followed by a week of storms and terrible weather. It is hard for me to remember that all are part of the process of new life being birthed again in the world. It is all part of an incredible miracle, but one that requires patience and attention in order to experience.
Lent and Spring are both times of rebirth and growth, and this growth can be subtle. You don’t always notice a crocus growing until one day your whole yard is full of beautiful purple flowers. This is also true of spiritual growth. God surprises us sometimes with our own spiritual growth, with the insights and joys, with uncomfortable realizations, and strange, unexpected consolations. These all come to us, not from within ourselves or own intellect, but from God. They are arriving to us from God’s merciful excess. So, this Spring and this Lent don’t forget to be surprised, to be taken aback by the wonder that God is bringing into this world, as gloomy, imperfect, or hopeless as it may seem. God is in the business of surprises. Let us keep our eyes open for wonder, even in this slog of early Spring and mid-Lent, lest the grace of God spring on us like a trap and catches us unprepared to give God thanks.