The kids and I snuggle on the couch while outside the rain falls and clouds cover the sky. To begin the week we awoke to only hints of sun and a pervading darkness. Not for the kids, but for me, the weather fits my mood.
Feeling surrounded by the dark — health concerns, uncertainty, contradictory news reports, fear — the rain falling does nothing to lighten my mood. With the kids pressing into my sides, I keep reading one of our current favorites, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.
“Oh no! Grass! Tall wavy grass.
We can’t go over it.
We can’t go under it.”
The children join me with loud voices: “We have to go through it!”
In my head I think that this book could be the theme book for the season of Lent; a season of reflection while wandering with Jesus in the desert, a season that invites us to walk forward into the darkness. A season of trusting that when we go through the darkness, we’re not alone.
It is one thing to simply read the Lenten scriptures and imagine ourselves with Jesus being tempted in the desert, but it’s altogether a different beast to feel the darkness and desert of our own lives.
There’s no shortage of feelings and experiences that cause us to want to bury ourselves in the dark, unable to put one foot in front of the other. Yet, Lent, the season of lengthening days, can hold our range of emotions and pull us to the other side of the season. Lent knows that the darkness always gives way to the light. Lent shows us through the cross that death doesn’t have the final world. Lent teaches us to hold postures of hope in the face of despair.
My kids and I keep reading and following along with the bear hunt through water, forests, and mud. Each time our response is the same with loud cheers: “We have to go through it!”
I feel their small bodies next to mine, a reminder that each of us is not alone. A reminder that the journey is done best in the company of others.
Perhaps this is the most important lesson of Lent and walking through the deserts and challenges of our lives — we do not go through it alone.
Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of two, and spouse of an ELCA pastor. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, MO. You can read more at her website or follow her work on Facebook.