A few courageous crocuses are poking their heads out of the ground (our New England version of Ground Hog Day!) It’s been a snowless winter on the Cape, and we remain bewildered about when winter will end because it never really began. A flicker, equally confused, tapped on a tree the other day. He tapped aggressively and then suddenly stopped to look around, almost as if he wasn’t sure it was time to engage in springtime behavior. A few more vigorous pecks, and then he vanished into the treetops.
Lent is a little like the end of winter. It’s not my favorite season, but certainly a necessary one. I’m encouraged to prayerfully “pull back” from scheduled responsibilities, and curl up with devotional reading and make intentional solitude.
This morning I walked along the border of the ocean: no particular time limit or destination. Just following the waves as they encroach with little fingers on the expanse of sand, the only sound, the rhythmic and persistent rise and fall of waves against the shore. Tall dunes rise on my right, over eighty feet in some places. Winter tides have sliced them like a sharp knife cutting cake, exposing distinct layers. The layers are in chronological order: first grass and stunted trees, then organic soil of different colored sand deposited by glaciers, a black sheet of ancient marsh, and finally, a layer of blue clay formed some 20,000 years ago. I’m reminded again of Lent, standing here, looking back on the biography of Earth in this place. Lent, reflective, pausing to look back, to look honestly at actions, motivations, and results.
I walk along the edge of the land, feet touching wave-washed beach stones glimmering in the sun. Each stone owns a unique color and shape. Together they make a lovely ribbon. I keep walking and will follow until I arrive at the end of winter to discover a new Easter.