I know how those crocuses and kids are feeling, like I too am uncurling from a long winter nap, ready for sun on my face and sap to run in my veins. And it inspires the same kind of clean-it-up fervor in me. It has been a long frozen winter; my creativity slowed to a trickle and my energy for anything new clogged up. We've been in maintenance mode for a long time and I'm ready for an overhaul.
Lent was supposed to be my spring cleaning frenzy, inside and out. I had big plans, bigger than perhaps was reasonable to expect to accomplish. Problem was, my big plans didn't come with any realistic supporting plans, like how to actually accomplish what I was setting out to do. So it shouldn't be surprising that here we are, about ready to round the corner into Holy Week, and all my great expectations for Lenten discipline have come to naught, my fast worth less than the paper I brainstormed it on. This is something at which I've discovered I'm actually quite good: creating grand schemes for accomplishing magnificent things, and then watching them all go up in smoke. All too often I'm left with the feeling of being utterly ineffective and inept as I compare my hopelessly high ideals with my messy and sputtering real.
But if Lent is "for" anything, perhaps this is the very thing. Those dusty ashes on my forehead several Wednesdays ago meant nothing if not to remind me that "I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. . . . For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out" (Romans 7:15, 18b). Lent is, at its heart, a six-week lament for "this body of death" that we carry around with us, day in and day out. I've got to deal with my own personal laziness and bad choices, and also the sheer cussedness of the world which keeps me from realizing my very good intentions. But, even deeper down, Lent is also a six-week process of stirring awake, stretching my arms toward the sun and coming alive again. It is rebirth, renewal, revival, so that at the end of it I can say, in spite of all my failures along the way, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set [me] free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death" (Romans 8:1,2).
Let the clean out begin!