After the big snow, my childhood buddies joined me to build a massive igloo in my backyard. We had been studying the Eskimos in Miss Foley’s fourth grade class, and it looked pretty easy.
We started by using four synchronized shovels to shape bricks, and then built a good sized circle as our base. We next placed another layer of snow bricks on top, only a few inches further in each time. After three hours of shoveling and shaping, we had what looked like, well… I can’t recall anything it truly looked like, except it was incomplete. Numerous efforts to figure out how to close the gap and form the dome, met with collapse.
We stood there looking at it. A quartet of defeated would-be Eskimos, who had failed to provide the afternoon with a place to eat candy, drink hot chocolate, tell dirty jokes, and swap tall tales. We were young and impatient and so, on the count of three, we destroyed the whole thing, and went inside to get warm and watch TV. My Mom made hot chocolate and buttered popcorn, but there were no naughty jokes or whopping lies shared with conviction.
We told Miss Foley about or efforts on Monday at school, and she showed us a book with pretty clear directions on how to build an igloo. It was much harder than we thought, and there were all kinds of requirements, like being about twenty degrees below zero and working with blocks of ice, melting them slightly with fire, and then allowing them to refreeze.
Not only that, Miss Foley said, they had watched their elders do it for years. Eskimos knew all the tricks, and possessed the wisdom of their culture and traditions.
To me, Lent is a lot like our attempt to create an igloo. We get started with good intentions, but soon it fades because we don’t have a clue how to take it to the finish. Like four fourth grade boys, most of us still need some help on how to create a meaningful Lent. We need some guidance, the wisdom of the ages, and pointers on what just might bring us to a perfect domed conclusion.
Maybe what is most vital about Lent is the simple reminder that we all need help and guidance – more frequently than we admit.
O, Lord of Lent, free us to ask for help. Guide us back to the goodness of service and sacrifice, prayer and devotions, and to the cleansing naming and claiming of our flaws and failings and flops. Come and cauterize our souls, boil away the grime of our selfishness and greed. 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.