I took a weekend Silent Lenten Retreat and learned how special the season of Lent (which means Spring) really is. Being in the lovely setting where winter-spring becomes its own season, I discovered that the transformation from winter to spring reveals the transformation of our souls in Lent.
We had an absolutely gorgeous weekend to enjoy solitude with God. Lent is a perfect season to see in nature what God is drawing out of us through the spiritual disciplines we focus on through penitence and preparation for Easter. It is the in-between season that shows us a lot about what we are doing spiritually through our focus on confession. From a distance winter can seem stark and ugly. I feel the same way about confession. But if you take the time to see the winter (previous devotional) you can see that the winter season reveals realities that get masked over by the growth of summer. In winter you become aware of what needs to be cleared away. In the same way the confession focus of Lent is a clearing season for my soul. I can see what needs to be cleared away — what is totally dead is shown for what it is.
The weekend retreat showed me the progress of confession on my soul. Along one of the paths I walked, there were many obstacles that could cause one to trip or stumble. Some included roots of trees that make the path shaded and wonderful to walk. One obstacle on my path was a large, dead, fallen-over log that needed to be removed and used for firewood. This un-useful obstacle did not serve any purpose. It reminded me of my sin. During Lent, I am looking at the sins that are most harmful and cause most damage to the progress of my soul. God is asking me to give over to Him the dead, fallen limbs of sin. His purpose is not just so I can feel bad about myself. He shows them to me so I can do in my soul what I saw needing to be done about the dead and rotting log that blocked my path. He wants me to see that these sins need to be removed. This Lenten season will not remove all my sin, but it will help me see and focus on the major obstacles that are only hurtful and up to no good or purpose.
Lent is a whole new season of my spiritual life. It is a log-clearing season. I want to be mindful of the logs in my own eyes and not worry about the specks I see in others. “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3). During Lent, God and I are walking the path of my soul. This season in-between winter and spring brings out the rotting branches of sin that are blocking the path of my soul’s spiritual progress. Without this special season the path, my soul would get overgrown and eventually become un-passable.
Because I was at the retreat center during Lent, I also enjoyed being able to walk deeper into the cool, quiet beauty of the creek than I can during other seasons. That experience represented the treasure of solitude. As I walk deeper into the river of God's love during this Lenten season, I can experience deeper solitude with Him. Confession creates deeper intimacy with God.
Lent is a clearing season. It may look harsh from a distance, but it is all about preparing for growth. The reward is the beautiful intimacy with God that can be experienced in no other way than walking the path of confession and humility.