The Brothers Frantzich have a great little song , “When Winter Lets Go of Minnesota,” that has been rolling around in my head this past week, as I watched the snow melt. I wait impatiently for the thermometer to let me join in on the line, “It may only be fifty degrees, but we’re doin’ yard work in the raw,” but so far, we’re just glad the temperature lingers above freezing several hours a day. We may still have remnants of ice dams on one part of our roof, and the deck is still a foot deep in rotten snow, yet I remain confident that we will see Spring sometime before June 1st. After all, there are bare spots in the yard, and I saw ducks on the creek yesterday. There is hope.
I really don’t like this season between seasons, this not-winter-anymore-but-definitely-not-Spring thing. The snow is ugly, and the melting reveals all sorts of nasty trash that I could easily ignore when it was covered in a pristine white blanket. It’s still too cold for anything to grow, and the dull browns and grays emerging from the slush give no promise of green, no sign of life. As the snow and ice melt, they form some new substance that only time and sunshine can dissolve. This substance, mostly water in some semi-frozen form, contains all the dirt, all the dead vegetation, all the junk that has been lying in suspended animation since Thanksgiving. It isn’t pretty.
Maybe the thing I like least about the melting mess is that it reminds me of my interior self, and that isn’t pretty, either. All the junk, all the dirt, all the dead stuff I have left in suspended animation for far too long pops up into my consciousness, and I am forced to take stock of the rotten snow in my soul. Good Friday nearly does me in every year. The darkening shadows of Tenebrae cannot hide the pock marks that pride, selfishness, and laziness have left on my spirit. I want to jump ahead to Easter Sunday, to eat chocolate and dance with the little girls in their pretty dresses as we sing, “Alleluia! Alleluia!” together. I do not want to shovel rancid snow off my frozen heart.
Then Jesus says, “Do you love me?”
And, like Peter, I answer, “Of course!”
But Jesus says, “Feed my sheep.”
And I want to make excuses, remind Jesus of the rotten snow that hasn’t completely melted in my soul….
“Do you love me?”
“Yes, Lord. You know that I love you.”
“Tend my sheep.”