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Speaking to the Soul: Below the Surface

Speaking to the Soul: Below the Surface

Week of 5 Lent, Year Two

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:

Psalms 22 (morning) // 141, 143:1-11(12) (evening)

Exodus 9:13-35

2 Corinthians 4:1-12

Mark 10:32-45

Today’s first reading describes the seventh brutal attempt at persuading Pharaoh to free God’s people. This time, Moses stretches out his hand and summons a hailstorm that batters the surface of the earth. The hail destroys everything caught out in the open, both humans and animals. The hail crushes plants and shatters trees. Pharaoh pleads for the hail to stop, but no sooner does Moses call off the storm than Pharaoh hardens his heart against God’s people yet again.

This story includes a curious side note about which crops have been destroyed by the hail and which have survived because their season has not yet come. The Scripture reports that when the plague of hail came, “the flax and the barley were ruined, for the barley was in the ear and the flax was in bud. But the wheat and the spelt were not ruined, for they are late in coming up.” When surveying the damage, the Scripture reminds us that there are still crops beneath the surface, preparing to break ground when their season comes.

On the surface of this story, the work of God seems to be in the hailstorm that pelts and pummels oppressors and their people. But the results of this work are merely the destruction of everything that is left exposed, and the re-entrenchment of hard-heartedness.

Perhaps the deep work of God is below the surface of the earth: Safe-keeping, nurturing, and imperceptibly growing. The wheat and the spelt will break ground without battering it into submission. They will soften the soil instead of compacting it. They will sustain a population instead of punishing them for the crimes of their tyrant. This spring, can we detect a God at work beneath the surface?

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as Priest Associate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and assists with education, young adult ministry, and campus ministry at St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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