I have been outdoors more this Lent than perhaps ever before. There has been lots of winter hiking and snowshoeing, which has been a real and unexpected blessing for me, since for various health reasons I have been unable to hike the trails for a couple of years, something I have sorely missed.
So many of my Lenten reflections have been on snowy trails in the nearby Pittfsfield State Forest, just a ten-minute drive from my home. During the week there is hardly anyone there; often I hike for hours without seeing a soul.
I have gone out in all kinds of weather, and joyfully watched the daily changes that were taking place there, just as I was noticing the daily changes taking place within me.
I have always loved to be outdoors, but in my theological writings I have shied away from too much talk about it because it so easily degenerates into a kind of nature worship, or the garden variety pantheism of so much popular culture.
God is surely known in his Word, Jesus Christ, in the preaching of the same, and in the bread we share and the cup we drink together. He is known to in the daily life of his congregations, where I served for more than thirty years. These things I know.
But this Lent I found God’s presence too in the small rivulets running under the ice even in the hard frozen days. Many of my Lenten Ruminations here on this blog have been illustrated with photos I have taken in the forest, with my ancient digital camera. I wasn’t sure why.
It took some time before I made the connection between what I was seeing in the woods and streams and what was taking place in my own Lenten journey.
Today I went hiking in the rain with my daughter and her boyfriend for about three and a half hours. It was mostly just drizzle or light rain. The snow and ice are melting from the week-end’s heavy rains, the brooks and streams are filling up. It is late winter. A week from today is officially spring (though not really here!)
Today I saw a roaring swollen brook and I felt somewhere deep inside me that my Lent this year is almost over, and that I am almost ready.
I was wet, but happy.
(Photos: top, Swollen Stream by R. L. Floyd; bottom: Wet but Happyby R. M. Floyd)