Did you know that the last time Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday happened on the same day was in 1945? There are many funny memes on social media that are wondering how you celebrate the day of chocolate indulgence while engaging in a Lenten fast. Still others are pointing out that you can’t have a valentine without the LENT in it. The mixed up feeling of these two things colliding on the same day have not been lost on me.
Given the mixed up kind of day VaLENTine’s day is today, I guess it should come as no surprise that we are not having a typical candy and flowers kind of a week at Cattywampus Corner (our home).
Sunday I was overwhelmed by recurring grief and loneliness caused by the loss of a beloved beagle back at the end of November. Monday brought feelings of disconnect as well as the most recent parent vs. child episode about school and the importance of grades. Tuesday was one of those days at work where nothing is going well and everything is moving fast. Then today arrives with a sick husband
and a sump pump that has stopped working in our basement. Did I mention North East Ohio is about to get rained on for the next few days?
They say desperate times call for desperate measures. Some people have stress balls, others sip on glasses of wine to soothe troubles away, still others practice yoga. For me what made the most sense was to buy a stuffed emotional support sheep.
Yes, I will confess to feeling slightly sheepish about purchasing a children’s toy at the age of almost forty for comfort, but perhaps reverting back to the simple things that helped us face things as children are still useful in midlife.
It also feels fitting to me that it was a lamb (sheep, same difference, only age seperate them – haha!) that I saw that made me feel soothed and safe. It is the sacrificial love of the Lamb of God that we begin to reflect on during the coming forty days of Lent!
It is during weeks like this past week that I need to be reminded the most that the troubles of this world are fleeting. Seasons of struggle come and go, but because of the Lamb of God, we have hope for an eternal future!
Our God is a God of love. Even in our loneliest hours amid struggles of this world, he reminds us that we are never alone:
‘Do not fear [anything], for I am with you;
Do not be afraid, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, be assured I will help you;
I will certainly take hold of you with My righteous right hand [a hand of justice, of power, of victory, of salvation].’
– Isaiah 41:10 (AMP)
It seems very appropriate to me that the season of Lent starts in the dark and cold days of winter. Jesus entered into a dark and cold world. The broken world of humans. Jesus came to restore us into right relationship with God. The Good Shepperd reclaiming his flock.
This world Jesus entered became even darker and more dangerous for him once he proclaimed himself as the long awaited for Messiah and began his ministry here on earth. Until the darkest day, Good Friday, when the Lamb of God was slain by the very people he came to save.
I am entering into this Lenten season as a lost and lonely wandering sheep. However, just as the psalmist proclaimed, I know that eventually at the end of every dark night, joy comes in the morning. We are never alone, the Shepperd is always near us.
Weeping may endure for a night,
But a shout of joy comes in the morning.
Psalm 30:5 (AMP)