Pushing the grocery cart into the store, I unzip my coat, press red gloves into pockets, stop and pull a small piece of paper out of my purse; a handwritten list of items I need to purchase. After scanning the list, I look up and what I see makes me gasp.
A stack of open boxes holds bundles of daffodils . . . . in February. Aren’t we still in winter?
When we moved to London last March, we pulled our suitcases into a virtually empty house. A couch of mismatched cushions and worn bedside table in the living room and a borrowed table and four red plastic chairs in the dining room. Cardboard boxes in the corner held lamps left by a friend.
In the center of the table, a glass vase holding an abundance of cheery daffodils was backlit by shards of sun streaming through a tall window. A simple gesture of welcome was like Christ kissing me on the cheek.
Daffodils are pushing through the ground and waving hello everywhere in London due to warmer than normal temperatures. Brits fear that the premature alacrity nature is boasting means spring will be less vibrant; ruined with one icy exhale of winter.
But for me, those flamboyant yellow mounds are a reminder that hope is not fickle and God is just.
Last week, on a sunny Saturday, I planted English Primrose in my virtually empty garden. A worm wiggled through a scoop of earth in the shovel and I realized that even worms look different in England.
Yesterday morning I wore an apron and carried plates stacked with warm blueberry pancakes from the kitchen into the dining room. Nine people sat around the table we purchased before my daughter’s second birthday, eighteen years ago. Daffodils fill vases on all three floors of my house.
“Do you think these pancakes turned out better than last year?” someone asked me while chatting over a sizzling skillet.
“Yes, these turned out perfect. The buttermilk is thicker than I’m used to in the US but I’ve learned to anticipate the quirks of this stove with months of practice.”
Today is the first day of Lent. The day we mark our foreheads with ash and remember that we are dust.
Tonight in London, there are rumors of frost after the sun goes down.
The daffodils and Ash Wednesday remind me that life is a circle of seasons and seasons don’t ask for permission to begin. They only ask me to wait, accept them, and then live.
As I walk out my turquoise door, onto pavement, yellow ruffles on daffodil stems sway in the wind. Change doesn’t happen unless we are willing to experience the details of life differently. And that is why I dread and need the season of Lent.
For more about Lent read The Circle of Seasons: Meeting God in the Church Year by Kimberlee Conway and Holey, Wholly, Holy: A Lenten Journey of Refinement by Kris Camealy.