Monthly Archives: February 2017

The ugly secret

I’ve decided to come out of the closet at last about it.

Yes, it is something we all do, especially at this time of year, though we don’t readily admit it to others. But I am willing to step forward publicly and acknowledge it, finally.

I paint my kitchen windows.

I know it is shocking to see it in print. It’s one of those things we tend to keep to ourselves, not wanting others to know the shameful truth. But I believe it is time to step forward.

I suppose there are a lot of reasons why we do it. Psychologists such as myself could have a field day analyzing the reasons for such bizarre behavior. And the artists would claim that it is for the sake of art alone, as though that were sufficient justification.

But I think the fundamental reason we do it is that we want to see something fresh and new and beautiful, rather than the drabness of late winter grey. We long for messages of hope that winter will ¬†soon release its grip on us and spring will emerge…

Yes, it is time to reveal all…I will bare my soul and allow you to view my foolish fantasies.

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(Of course, the text was added electronically, not that that makes it any better…)

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The season of Lent begins. We tend to think of this as a somber time, since repenting is perhaps not our favorite thing to do.

Can I not just fast-forward to Paschal joy, to experience the risen Lord amidst the fresh spring flowers?

Of course, I can. People do it all the time. They don their suits and bonnets, decorating their children like Easter eggs, and proceed on with their semi-annual visit to church. Then, they come home to a lavish meal and return to life as usual.

The only problem is that they have missed a true encounter with the risen Lord – for they have not stayed awake with Him in His agony, nor have they carried the cross with Him on the path toward crucifixion.

I say this, not to sit in judgment, but rather with sorrow and compassion. And empathy.

For I know – though typically only in retrospect – that I too often paint myself as I want to see myself, not as I really am.

I want to see myself as a beautiful person, full of color like the paintings on my windows, rather than looking more deeply within where I might discover some ugliness. I most certainly discover sin inside, if I am willing to look, but also a good deal of a drabness not unlike what truly lies outside my kitchen windows now.

This drabness is my laziness, my indifference, my willingness to be content with myself the way I am.

I see in my backyard the old, dead leaves that didn’t get raked up last fall with the rest. Perhaps we had a cold snap and it no longer seemed worth the time and effort. So I let them lie there. “I’ll take care of them in the spring…”, I told myself.

How much I am willing to “let lie” in my spiritual life! “I’ll get to it…”, the familiar refrain through many of my days.

But there is a great blessing in this…not because I am good but because God is endless in His love for me, giving me so many ways in which to begin again.

For when I am ready to stop pretending and actually lift those old leaves from my lawn and garden beds, I discover that they have become compost! And little insects and worms are already at work, converting my negligence to a richness that will nourish many new beginnings.

And so we begin the work, pulling up, cutting back, digging deep.

Not for the sake of making ourselves suffer, as though guilty ruminations and self-reproach have an inherent value. But so we can find the treasures buried down deep in our pain and weakness, ready to be transformed by the cross of Christ.

Not long ago, I heard the message: we are not saved by how much Christ suffered but by how much He loved.

So let us give ourselves over to Him and allow His love to sustain us. Living in the depth of that love, we need not be afraid to do the work which unites us to His cross.

And once united to His cross, once we have made His life our life, we are certain to encounter Him risen and glorious – not just on Easter but every day and throughout all eternity.

Come, my dear friends, by His grace let us begin the journey anew…