Lent begins like a bare branch. Its soul is bruised and quite brittle. It is ripe to snap in a sharp winter wind. It shivers, and is lonely. It holds no warmth, and quietly moans or sighs in words without meaning or hope. It crackles and yearns at night, when the cold is painful. It has difficulty finding rest, and peace is out of the question.
Lent begins like a bare branch against the occasional cobalt blue skies of the first months of the year, appearing like black lace against the blue sky, as if the horizon wears it like a mantilla, draping its sorrow in a sad display of loveliness and loss.
Lent begins like a bare branch. It is full of the longing for spring, but must endure with patience and perseverance the lengthy pilgrimage of some forty days. It is not a fast in the truest sense, as there is still beauty to behold, and the earth, caught in moments of breathtaking sunlight, may still erupt in miraculous wonder.
But…on the whole, it is a lonely walk; mostly alone; seldom with even a blanket or bed. These nights are long and quiet, but the soul seems to dance in mourning until the morn. One does not wake refreshed, but more tired than when sleep began – or did it begin at all?
Lent begins like a bare branch. Even when etched in wet snow, as if a forgotten Christmas card, it will contain, at its core, loneliness, anonymity, and a pervasive sense of absence. Lent is a spiritual season carved out of the muck and mire of Life, and it requires the digging through many a deep drift of despair and memories both painful and bold.
Lent begins like a bare branch, quivering in the frigid night air, and awaiting even a hint of sun. Still, it waits for dawn with firm resolution, determined to greet the day with loyalty, and to address a God somewhere with a modicum of civility. In the beginning, it is all polite and pious, knowing full well it will be a journey of few joys.
Still, there is an affectionate nod at the beginning of Lent, the recognition that the trek will be of significant value, and as always, maturing, which is key and the purpose, and will allow us to step forward into many dark nights and grey dismal days with only the vision of lime lace to guide and inspire us.
O, Lord of Lent, hold this empty bare branch close, with a tender hand, and the touch of Grace. Gently push us forward to begin our downward ascent, as we travel deep within to meet with You once again. No, not face to face, but close enough to smell your scent and hear your words. Amen.
Reverend William R. Grimbol has spent the past 30+ years helping people create and develop strong spiritual connections with loved ones and God. He is also a published author, with over a dozen books to his credit.