The boys had just been put to bed. I changed clothes, threw on my running shoes, and told EA that I would be back in less than a hour.
The air was moist from an early evening shower. It was neither warm nor cold, but that perfect temperature for a run. Daylight clung to the horizon by its fingertips and ever so slowly lost its grip. Dark blue and gray gave way to a deep crimson then black and gray. The earlier rain had glazed the streets. In the twilight, every street light turned into a shimmering island upon a gravel sea. In between my labored breathing and my footfalls on asphalt, I heard the chorus of young frogs chirping their high pitched songs to one another.
Before I reached my second mile, I realized that spring was breaking through. Sure anyone can know it's spring on a bright and beautiful April afternoon. But this was subtle; under the cover of night. Sure, there will be more cold days. March in the South is a cruel tease. Yet running through my neighborhood, I felt like I was being told a secret. Spring is coming, it whispered. And if you pay attention, it's already here.
To me, one of the most evocative chapter titles is found in C.S. Lewis' The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: "The Spell Begins to Break." It describe when the White Witch's evil chokehold on Narnia began to loosen; life was breaking through. That is what this sneak preview felt like: creation stirring from a frozen spell.
The funny thing is I normally would have missed these whispers. I typically listen to music on my runs and sort of get lost in my own thoughts. The only reason that I didn't this evening was I had a pounding headache. I probably shouldn't have run at all, but the forecast was calling for rain the next several days so I was bound and determined to get a run in. The compromise that I made in myself is I wouldn't pummel my eardrums with music.
In these weeks leading up to Easter, I have been listening to a playlist of songs that remind me of Lent. They are songs full of questions, doubts, fragility. They are prayers for some sort of sign and rescue. That has been my soundtrack for almost a month now. Not that I think Lent should be forty days of depression, but I just want to remind myself of the raw vulnerability and fallenness of our condition.
Yet midway through Lent, I was reminded tonight that all of this is heading somewhere. Oftentimes it seems like we live permanently in Land of Lent. It is always winter and never Christmas; much less spring and Easter. Terrorists, racism, materialism, hatred, and so much more numb us to the Good News. Yet just as spring breaks through, our winters will thaw. The light will dawn. Sometimes it is slow. Sometimes the Kingdom sneaks in under the cover of night.
So keep your eyes open even in the darkness. You might see the spell begin to break. Listen carefully. You might hear the whispers of what Jesus said and did not so long ago: the Reign of God is coming. And if you pay attention, it's already here.