Deep in the heart of Lent, spring arrived today, though ahead of its time. After a Sunday School meeting ended this evening, we came out into the nearly sultry darkness, and heard peepers calling from the nearby swamps and bogs. Now, nearly midnight, on this 18th day, thunder sounds in the distance, getting closer, rolling in towards us, rumbling so deeply, that it took me a few minutes to identify the sounds as thunder. I saw clouds banking up across the bay near sunset earlier, so I shouldn’t be surprised. It’s been unseasonably warm, and yesterday we broke a record for warmth in Boston.
Somehow this strange weather brings the strangeness of the Lent story closer, the painful trek to the cross, the distant rumbles of thunder sending a frisson of anxiety up the spine, an animal reaction to danger. And I think of those days, when Jesus travelled toward his death, and what he experienced. Always when I visualize him in prayer, I see an implacable commitment, or dedication, but perhaps that’s not the way it happened. Perhaps there was a storm wind that impelled him toward the cross, just as the Holy Spirit drove him, threw him into the desert, or a series of dramatic events with unavoidable political consequences leading to the cross: teaching openly, turning over tables in the Temple, preaching on the streets, entering Jerusalem on a donkey, all illustrating a mastery of brilliant street theatrics modelled on prophetic utterances.
Thunder rumbles, and we’re nearly halfway there. The storm winds pick up, and the sea stirs, under a sky with no stars.