Wrestling with Words

I looked up and suddenly, it’s one week until Lent. How did that happen? Only a few weeks ago, finishing the Christmas season, it seemed such a long way away. Easter is late this year, as late as it can be and still be Easter – April 24th – and yet, here it is, the never ending winter is ending and Lent is about to begin.

Today when I remembered to look beyond a small ragged pool of crusted snow stuck in one corner of the yard, when I looked beyond the wet oak leaves, I saw a row of tulip leaves breaking the mud. An inch and a half of green shoots all shining in a row. And at the bottom, where the crocus always bloom, one tiny, hearty plant boasted two yellow flowers. The season turns.

During the Lenten season, I post a reflection each day. That’s my spiritual practice. I stop, read, and write. And, if you are following the blog, it will be your Lenten spiritual practice, too. I don’t really understand the spiritual value of fasting – I’m not saying there isn’t one, I’m just saying I don’t understand the value. And I don’t understand the value of “giving up” something that we will take up again once Lent is over. It might have a value, that “giving up,” but I don’t get it.

What I do get is wrestling with words. My sister, bless her heart, said something that stayed with me. She said, “When I think of you, I see pieces of paper with words.” What a remarkable idea. And yet, I also realize that when I think of her, I see paintings. Now I don’t know what it would mean to wrestle with paintings, I guess she would have to address that, but I do know what it means to wrestle with words. I want them to mean what I’m thinking. Or, more clearly, I want them to express what I’m thinking, and I want to understand more than the surface layer when I read other’s words: I want to understand the thinking behind the words.

And what I want from the words I wrestle with is a new understanding, a new way of thinking and breathing and living. Or, as Rosanne Cash so succinctly put it, “I want a cure.” At least for one small corner of my life.

And so, I suppose what I’m doing is putting up a warning early. You’re gonna get six weeks of scripture wrestling here beginning next Wednesday, the 9th of March. Ash Wednesday. I hope you’ll wrestle with me. It’s different than mud wrestling – less sexy, more challenging. But no skinned knees.

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