What stirs your imagination for warmer and brighter in the wet chill of late winter? For some it is the chirpy cadences of a spring training ball game on the radio. For others it is a seed catalogue in the mail and dreaming of summer color rainbows.
A favorite late winter song of mine is George Harrison’s Here Comes the Sun. It grabs me at hello, opening, “Little darling, it’s been a long cold, lonely winter.” The song makes me smile as a positive rush toward a warmer, promising future.
Eric Clapton, in whose garden the song was spontaneously composed, recalls the day. “It was a beautiful spring morning…in April. We were walking around the garden with our guitars. George was a magical guy. We sat down at the bottom of the garden, looking out. The sun was shining. It was a beautiful morning, and George began to sing the opening lines and I just watched the thing come to life.”
But there is more to the backstory. Abbey Road was a late album for the Beatles. By then the band was twisting toward the end. Seasons were shifting, yes, but so were the life and times of the Fab Four. George Harrison, for example, wrote the song “Something.” Frank Sinatra, no fan of rock and roll, called it, “the greatest love song ever written.” George was a gifted composer unfulfilled in the shadows of the Lennon/McCartney songwriting “A team.” “Here Comes the Sun” longs not only for springtime, but also for escaping deep shadows. Notice, on his first solo album, Ringo appears as George’s drummer, but Lennon and McCartney do not.
So what’s the point, you ask? We can listen to “Here Comes the Sun” and enjoy it for what it is, and be content. But for those who want more, for those who dig deeper, we delve into the backstory of what happened, and it comes fully alive.
The same is true with Lent as the backstory to Easter. On Easter Sunday, we will welcome masses of neighbors, guests, and visitors who take Easter for what it is. Nothing wrong with that. But for people like you who want more, for people who can’t help but dig even deeper, as we make the stops together along the journey of Lent, Easter looms on a late winter horizon with greater majesty and promise.
The stories of Lent are hard, just as it is hard to imagine John, Paul, George, and Ringo resenting one another. But Lenten stories make God’s promises more real. Last Sunday we heard Jesus facing into the despair of his destiny, predicting his own disastrous end in Jerusalem. Peter didn’t want to hear it, but it was all real. And to settle for anything less than this as Christian faith reeks of sentimentality.
This Sunday we hear of Jesus cleansing his temple of distracting commercialism. We see another side of Jesus than “meek and mild” or the Good Shepherd. And God’s plan of salvation, God’s project of rescuing us, becomes more real, even if it is less idealized, less pat, less tidy. I love it that we make this journey together. I love it that we have this spiritual core, holding Good Friday and Easter together.