Much of yesterday as the snow and sleet and ice came down I was mired in bitterness. Bitterness over a winter that is hanging on in full ferocity, bitter that my toddler spends most of his time angry at the world, bitter that a particular recurring ailment of mine seems to have returned to add physical discomfort to my emotional frustrations, bitter that my whole life is currently spent cleaning up, bitter that soon our life will be filled with goodbyes again.
And on this day, one of the most sacred in the Christian calendar, the day that marks when the cross changed from the instrument of common criminal death to the symbol of God's greatest act of love and humility, His creation is encased in ice. Frozen.
My tulips that had such promise will have to fight for life.
The lilac buds that were set to bloom in just a few weeks may now have to wait longer to burst forth in their lavendar glory.
I can't help but see the similarities between this storm and my heart. For what else is bitterness but a layer of ice built around the heart preventing one from reveling in gratefulness? Preventing me from seeing the gifts that overwhelm my life?
What else, indeed.
This morning as I stole 5 quiet, lovely minutes to creep outside in my pajamas with my camera before the sun began to melt the ice, I was reminded of why the bitterness cannot define me. Of how Good Friday isn't the end of the story.
Because even as I gazed dolefully at my poor, pathetic tulips, I saw the stark beauty that surrounded me. The beauty in the ice that just moments ago had angered me because I wanted the beauty of spring. The way it made the colors of green and brown and red pop out in the landscape. Of how the world just seemed clearer, somehow.
I thought back to the confusion of Jesus' followers on this day so many years ago. To see their hopes, their dreams, the very life they had longed for slipping from their grasp. Their fear, their own bitterness at what they thought was the end of life as they knew it. Of how they didn't know the end of the story like we do.
Friends, it is clear to me that my biggest struggle in this phase of my life is the tendency towards discontent. Towards bitterness. In seeing in my life what is lacking, rather than what is Good.
And since I often tend to rush through Holy Week to get to the joy of Easter rather than engage the emotions that came before the morning that changed the world forever, I was suddenly thankful for the ice storm. Thankful for the way it revealed to me, once again, the ways my heart stays frozen even in the midst of so much light, so much warmth, so many gifts I've been given in my life.
The ways that I let what I think SHOULD BE crowd out the beauty that IS.
Today, on this Good Friday, I am asking God once again to help me let go of all that seeks to steal my joy so that in two days from now, when I stand with my community on Easter morning, I will truly be able to see anew the astounding glory of the resurrection, of the world made new, of death conquered and promises fulfilled. Of life in all it's messy goodness.