I appreciate the mild winter we have had so far, but it reminds me of my grandfather.
Years ago, he retired to southern Illinois after having worked for 25 years in northwest Iowa and North Dakota. Like many retirees, he eventually became a “snowbird,” leaving the area every winter. Unlike most of his contemporaries, however, he spent those months in northern Wisconsin! Once he wrote that the 50 inches of snow they received had made for a lovely winter.
The prophet Isaiah writes that “… the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater.” (Isaiah 55:10)
Both Isaiah and my grandfather remind me that the snow is a gift that I often fail to appreciate.
The church is entering the season of Lent, a time when we focus on the journey of Jesus to the cross. We are reminded that his earthly life was also an unappreciated gift. He was rejected because people wanted a Messiah to overthrow Roman oppression; instead he sought to empower people to transform the world by loving even their enemies. Lenten disciplines (praying, giving, fasting) serve to redirect our attention, so we might more fully receive the gifts God wishes to provide.
I’m not hoping for any more snow or ice, but I am hoping for a renewed capacity to welcome God’s gifts that can transform the world.
Rev. Tim Darmour-Paul