Back to Top

Ash and Oil: March 6

You have made the moon to mark the seasons;

the sun knows its time for setting.

You make darkness, and it is night,

when all the animals of the forest come creeping out.

The young lions roar for their prey,

seeking their food from God.

When the sun rises, they withdraw

and lie down in their dens.

People go out to their work

and to their labor until the evening.

(Psalm 104:19-23)

When I lived in Southern California, I had a hard time with the rhythm of the year. Growing up in the Midwest, I was used to distinct seasons, to clear changes that told me it was fall or spring, winter or summer.

Had I grown up in SoCal, I’m sure I would have been much more in tune to the seasonal changes there, but as a transplant, the near constant sun and warmth all year long threw me for loop. When I try to remember when a past conversation or event took place, I have a hard time remembering if it was winter or summer. Did I need to wear a sweater that day? Was there a cloud in the sky? Everything kind of ran together – I had no real sense of time passing.

So I share the psalmist’s appreciation for the marking of the seasons, for the rhythms of a year or a day. The plants, the animals, and people have a pattern to follow, and cues to mark their time. There’s a comfort, stability and purpose in this.

But we live in a time when we can get around the rhythms of our particular places. We can have ourselves a tropical fruit salad in the dead of winter, even if we’re nowhere near the equator. We can go skiing in the summer and snorkeling in the winter. We can regulate our environments with heaters and coolers and move from one location to another sometimes without ever stepping outside.

It’s not like these are necessarily terrible things, but what happens if we begin to forget our place? If we skip out on the rhythm too much? If we can do whatever we want whenever we want with whatever resources we want, without regard to when we are and where we are – won’t we make some bad choices? Will we miss out on something?

One of the things I’ve learned to appreciate about my Midwestern home is how appropriate the juxtaposition of Lent and Easter are with the transitioning seasons of winter to spring. It makes so much sense.

We’re moving from darkness to light. From hard, cold ground, to rich, fruitful earth. I’m starting to see green buds on the trees in my neighborhood – new just this week. I’m so eager for the full blooms, and I know that they are coming – I can see that they are coming. Out of death and darkness comes light and life.

Pray: Dear Lord, we thank you for the rhythms of our seasons and of our days. In all times and in all places, help us to find you.

Take the next step: Consider taking a day this week to fast from electrical lighting at home. Turn off all electrical lights (even that coffee machine clock), and live the day according to the sun. Go to sleep when the sun goes down--or read a book by candlelight--and let the sun on your face awaken you the next day. Enjoy living into your place.

[Image: Flickr user Shella Sund]

The Reformed family is a diverse family with a diverse range of opinions. Not all perspectives expressed on the blog represent the official positions of the Christian Reformed Church. Learn more about this blog, Reformed doctrines, and our diversity policy on our About page.

In order to steward ministry shares well, commenting isn’t available on Do Justice itself because we engage with comments and dialogue in other spaces. To comment on this post, please visit the Christian Reformed Centre for Public Dialogue’s Facebook page (for Canada-specific articles) or the Office of Social Justice’s Facebook page. Alternatively, please email us. We want to hear from you!

Read more about our comment policy.