February just can’t leave fast enough. It’s gray and dreary out, with snow piles in various stages of melting and sludge on every flat surface. When I’m outside, no matter how tropical the 40 degrees is supposed to feel after our bout with the sub-zeros a few weeks ago, I huddle into my coat and hate that I’m still layering clothing. When I’m inside, I curl under blankets and snuggle with a cup of hot tea. All the time, I’m feeling the pull of the sunlight peeking through the clouds, wanting it to do its job and bring the world to life.

I’m hearing the birds more and we can’t just let the dog out in the mornings because the critters are waking up. So I know there’s hope. But I get caught up in the cold that seeps into my fingers and won’t go away, in the initial shock when I step out of the shower in the mornings (because no, I don’t get up early and turn on the heater to let it run), in the frost that persists on my windshield.

And so we enter Lent. We enter that time of the year when the church is bare, when the music is somber, when our minds are turned to what we can do. I need Lent this year, if only for the distraction from my winter blues. I need the reminder that comes from sacrifice; I need the challenge that comes from penance; I need the joy that comes from the journey.