E-Letter 186

Posted by on Feb 19, 2015 in Devotions | 0 comments

Ash Wednesday Reflection…

I woke up this morning anticipating Today grinding to a halt, frozen, smothered in place by pillows of devilish Arctic air settling in the low places surrounding the lake.  Knowing that the morning temperatures would hover in the single digits, I filled my birdfeeders late last night after returning home from the evening’s Ash Wednesday service, my forehead smudged and my fingernails caked with coal-black flakes of ash, burned remnants of last year’s Palm Sunday celebration.  The cold is so much easier to endure when coupled with darkness, I thought, and besides, how grateful those early birds will feel when they notice their feeders brimming with sunflower seeds and millet!

As I write this reflection, five tiny chickadees lie panting on my porch.  Some avian nightmare – an unfamiliar sound, the scent of a neighbor’s cat, the swift shadow of a hawk’s wings – signalled the heavenward flight of the feeding flock, and in the confusion of the sudden escape, five little ones flew into my windows. Startled by the bullet-like sound of their dawn crashes, I rush outside cradling healing offerings of seed and warm water, hoping to revive these fallen ones. Secretly, I nurse the sad realization that my good intentions – providing food for these feathery winged ones– have brought pain and fear to the creatures who delight the heart of the Soaring Creator.

That sorrowful truth is hard for me to bear so early in the morning! But maybe, just maybe, that sorrowful truth reveals the hiddenness of Ash Wednesday’s economy of grace: that the God Who Loves the World stretches his wings to shelter all his little ones stunned by the cold, painful gift of mortality.