This Cruel Season of Promise

Mar 11, 2014

From my kitchen window I can see a blue plastic sled stranded at the top of a small hill.

Last year, our first spring at Maplehurst, we edged the hill on one side with blueberry bushes. We shored up the other side with an asparagus patch. We planted a peach tree and a cold-hardy fig like two flags at the top, but the kids have carved a downward path that manages, usually, to carry their sleds around their mother’s precious plants.

The snowcover on the hill is shrinking, and the sled is marooned. I can imagine it still sitting there in July, nearly forgotten in the weeds.

The sled I see clearly, but it is much harder for me to imagine July’s green abundance. Here, in early March, there are no signs of new life. Instead, the snow seems to be coughing up rusted buckets and wilted kickballs.

These hinge weeks between winter and spring are always ugly, but, thanks to February’s ice storm, this one is particularly awful. Brown grass and mud are mixed with splintered wood; our world looks as if it has only just survived some disaster.

From my kitchen window, I see a waste land.

The trees, still bare, no longer remind me of elegant bones against the sky. Instead, they look naked, and I am ashamed for them.


winter to spring1


At church, it is the first Sunday of Lent. The cross carried in procession is veiled in purple, as if we cannot yet bear the sight of our redemption. Easter, like spring, is still too good to be true.

The reading from the Old Testament this day is from Genesis. Adam and Eve discover their nakedness, and they are ashamed.

This season I am following my friend Sue’s example and praying daily one simple prayer: Search me, God, and know my heart.

This prayer is simple and brief, but it isn’t easy to pray. It feels like a deliberate stepping out into the open with no clothes. Not even a fig leaf.


I thought this prayer would open my eyes to some sin. Instead, my eyes have been opened to something much more complicated.

T. S. Eliot describes it in his own meditation on a wasted, blasted land:

April is the cruelest month, breeding

Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing

Memory and desire, stirring

Dull roots with spring rain.

Winter kept us warm, covering

Earth in forgetful snow …

Winter’s rest is melting away, and I am waking up to a great desire. And I find this terrifying. Exhilarating, too.

Spring won’t truly arrive until I have dreamed and ached to pick asparagus, blueberries, peaches and figs. First, the longing. Then, the feast.

And the new plans God has for my life can’t be realized unless I first recognize the desire planted in my heart.  Certain dreams will never come true unless I first wake up and remember them. But to remember them enough to pray for them is to stand naked before God. There is no more hiding the depth of my desire. There is no shrinking from the fear that he will say no or not yet. Sometimes spring is interrupted by a killing freeze.

God is tugging me – and you – towards resurrection.

But the road is a cruel one.



  1. Kris Camealy

    I’m joining you and your friend in that simple prayer. Your writing here is stark and hushed. I am hanging on to these words. Thank you, Christie.

    • Christie Purifoy

      Yes, join us! So glad to have you here, Kris. You have learned a thing or two about Lent – I am slowly reading through your book this season. It is beautifully written and such a blessing. Thank you.

  2. Amy

    I love this. We had a taste of spring yesterday, and today, a bitter snow storm is blowing. I don’t think I understood about Easter, and spring, as well when I lived in the south.

    May God say YES to your desires.

  3. Shelly Miller

    Cruel indeed. But the redemption is always the found beauty. Your writing is breathtaking Christie. Thank you for sharing it.

    • Christie Purifoy

      And thank you, Shelly, for reading and encouraging so faithfully. You are a gift.

  4. Diana Trautwein

    Holey moley, girl. This is gorgeous. And so perfectly painted. One of the best descriptions of Lent I’ve ever read, even if that wasn’t your intent, it’s there – rich and beautiful. And the role of desire is so key – and for too long, the evangelical church has not even touched the topic, as if the word itself is sinful. Hogwash. I truly believe desire is a gift from God, a magnetic north that pulls us toward our true selves and the very heart of God. It’s true, you might hear a ‘not yet.’ But if this is holy desire? Don’t think you’ll hear a ‘no.’ Thank you for this, dear Christie.

    • Christie Purifoy

      “… a magnetic north that pulls us toward our true selves and the very heart of God.” Yes! I’m writing that down. I don’t want to forget those words. Thank you, Diana.

  5. Katie @ cakes, tea and dreams

    This is so beautiful and wise. I’m longing for spring too, here in chilly New England, and learning to admit those hidden yearnings.

    • Christie Purifoy

      Katie, I can’t believe how much courage it takes just to admit what is already in your heart. Be brave and be encouraged. Spring is on its way.

  6. elizabeth marshall

    Had to step in here for more beautiful encouragement. I know this well, so very very well. The tapestry is so rich I’m making my way through the woven threads of words multiply times.

  7. Darlene Collazo @ {InPursuit}

    There’s something to be said about having to stand there in humility, bearing it all. I’m reminded of the confidence that comes from knowing God’s not through with me. That this season is part of the process that there might be fruit. Good fruit.
    Thank you for sharing…

  8. Kimberly

    Discerning the source of my desires is always a difficult thing, whether they are of the flesh or of the spirit. Your words encourage me to keep my eyes and heart open to the stirring.

  9. Sue Tell

    Oh Christie ~ I had to read this in the morning … no late at night, ready to put out the light reading. I miss too much. Eloquent communicating requires a wide open heart.

    God is tugging you–and me–toward resurrection. A personal resurrection fueled by desires he gave you in the first place. A new place to trust. Love it.


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