Christian reflections

Open to the Sun

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Lent always feels odd to me now that I live in California. Lent feels more Lent-y when there’s snow on the ground and a chill in the air. When everyone is desperate for a warm beam of sun and the promise of spring. When I’ve put a toddler into a snowsuit for the 4,872nd time and I feel in my bones the Psalmist’s cry of, “How long, O Lord?”

But it’s still Lent, even though half my friends spent the weekend at the beach and my steering wheel was too hot to touch when I went to CVS this afternoon. Plus, California has its share of weather-related inconveniences, too. For example, sometimes it’s HOT. And this one time, it RAINED. I know, right? How do we survive?

Anyway, I went to the beach last week to decompress from ministry and parenthood and being what feels like twenty months pregnant even though it’s only seven and a half (seriously?!), and it was surprisingly windy out. So windy that I couldn’t actually read the devotional I’d brought along with me because of the rattling of pages and the swirling of sand.

So instead I walked. I prayed for things at church and at home, for the wee baby growing inside, for the adjustment of the toddler to what will come. Then just above the shoreline I noticed white and purple daisies, growing amidst the succulents, their faces boldly open to the sun despite the wind. You can’t tell from the photo, but they were absolutely shaking. Trembling and vibrating with each gust. Yet their faces were still open fully to the sun.

It was like God pointed to those daisies and said, “See? That’s what I’m calling you to be. That’s what I’m calling my church to be. It gets windy out there. But don’t shrink because of the wind. Don’t hide from the gusts. Look straight up at me, no matter how windy it gets, and I will sustain you.” There are times when the best devotional guide isn’t in a book. It’s why the Psalms rely so heavily on word-pictures and why Jesus tells so many colorful stories. Image is powerful. Nature is one way God grabs us and says “Stop. Look.”

Where have you found a non-traditional devotional lately?


 

A couple more traditional Lent-related readings I’ve loved this week, and one old favorite:

For frustrated devotion-attempters: Katelyn Beaty’s “Why Lent is Good for Bad Christians.”

For poetry lovers or dabblers: T.S. Eliot’s “Ash Wednesday.”

For pastors: Eugene Peterson’s “The Subversive Pastor.”

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