March arrives, the last hurrah of winter and the first whisper of spring. Slowly our spirits reawaken, along with the natural world, from a long winter's slumber. Branches that just days ago were bare, now blossom with new growth. Deep within we feel stirrings of hope. This month we plant the seeds of simplicity. - Sarah Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance
March days remind me of what a "glam life" is really all about. At 22, I thought glamor was red carpets, palm trees, and fashion (and it is), but six years later I know it's also quiet candlelit mornings, frozen pine trees, and hot coffee. Our ideas of a glam life or the good life morphs over time and as we mature into something more natural and simple.
Over the weekend we traded an hour of our day for the promise of spring. Saturday morning snow and ice were frozen to the branches of each tree in Denver creating the "Winter Wonderland effect" that feels like magic is afoot. Waking up to this simple, natural beauty reminds me why I moved to Denver. As long as it's been, and as cold, and as lonely as Denver can be, and as much as I long for L.A., I don't know how I could leave this place of winter and spring. It's taught me too much, it's meant too much.
On Saturday, it was winter and on Sunday it was spring. I drove around town with the windows down and when I got back home the pool looked like the 4th of July full of aviators and floral bikinis without a trace of the winter that was only moments ago. There's nothing quite like spring in Denver with forty degree temperature swings that feel like waking up to the smile of a new life.
In Southern California, it's always beautiful, but that means there is no experience of the renewal of spring and of the world waking up. After months of early bedtimes and fireside retreats, we shed layers and head outside to enjoy a communal rebirth.
The seasonal transition mirrors the death and rebirth we see in the Bible as God redeems all things and makes us new (Rev 21:5). He mirrors the grit and grace of His message with the snow and the sun of the seasons he created, and in the bitter and the sweet of life. As Shauna Niequeist reminds me, winter is bitter and summer is sweet, but we need both.
We really do need both the bitter and the sweet. A life of nothing but sweetness rots both your teeth and your soul. Bitter is what makes us strong, what forces us to push through, what helps us earn the lines on our faces and the calluses on our hands. Sweet is nice enough, but bittersweet is beautiful, nuanced, full of depth and complexity.
Winter and summer, snow and sun, death and rebirth...we need both sides of the coin.
If you're familiar with the church's liturgical calendar, then you may know that on Wednesday we entered the season of Lent. You may know also know Lent as a time when we give something up for 44 days, but as Ann Voskamp writes, "Give something up or don't: the point is, how am I giving more of myself to Jesus?"
How am I going to live today so that tomorrow I wake up a better illustration of the story of death and rebirth God wants to tell with all of our lives? This is the time of the year we reconnect with the heart of the story: life always comes from death. God's greatest gift, His greatest act of grace, came from the death of His son Jesus Christ, which means it's quite possible the same is true in our own lives. God's greatest gift to us may come from the death of a part of us or a part of our lives.
This means we must allow death to do it's work in us, trimming and pruning that which is holding us back and letting go of what we are holding too tightly. No tree in the forest and no life on earth can bloom at all times. There must be times of death and times of rebirth, times of emptiness in our lives and times of fullness and absundance. Just as the harvest comes from sowing seeds into empty dirt, the life in our lives comes from times of emptiness and reflection, soul-searching and waiting.
Is there a small way we can remind ourselves to let go and embrace this season of Lent?
Lent is a time we remember the death that must come before rebirth. We die to ourselves, our desires and our dreams to take on the depth of something bigger and brighter...the resurrection of Jesus and the redemption of our world.
I pray that in this season of Lent we can embrace the central theme of the story, death and rebirth, and allow that cycle to do it's work in us, preparing us for the new life on the way.