As a Minnesota girl, the analogy of Lent as a desert has never really worked for me. I have only seen the desert once on a short trip to Arizona. Sand, heat and cacti don’t resonate with me. In Minnesota, the season of Lent is hardly hot. It comes in the middle of winter, and is normally cold, cold, cold. The season of Lent in the northland is not desert brown, it is snowy white.
I was pondering Lent and my disconnect with the desert backdrop when I stumbled across a bicycle in the snow. Yes, I thought, how perfect for Lent! A bicycle in the snow!
Don’t get me wrong: I understand why Lent is linked with the desert. After all, Lent is inspired by the forty days Jesus spent in the desert prior to beginning his ministry. All through the Bible, the desert is the place of preparation, training and transformation. The desert experience is associated with struggles, dangers and longing.
But, my mind still goes back to the bicycle in the snow. Maybe those desert experiences of struggle, dangers, and longing can be found with a bicycle in the snow.
We can all imagine the struggle it would be to remove a bicycle locked in snow (or a car snowplowed-in for that matter). Getting unstuck and moving around in the snow is a struggle. Likewise, during Lent, I struggle with my short-comings and my inclinations to sin.
Have you seen people riding bikes in the winter? It looks so dangerous. Likewise, during Lent, I have skirmishes with dangers. I find myself fighting negative and discouraging thoughts. I can get stuck dangerously mistrusting God’s love and forgiveness.
We all, during the snowy season, long for warm days and green grass. We long for riding our bicycles, being footloose and fancy free. Likewise, during Lent, I have longings. I long for reconciliation and wholeness. I long for transformation. I long for God.
Be it a desert or a bicycle stuck in the snow, may this Lent transform our struggles into assurances, dangers into safety, and longings into serenity.