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Inspiration: Wisdom from Nature: This devotional has been posted with permission from Wesley Seminary. For more Lenten reflections, please follow along with Wesley Seminary's 2021 Lenten Devotional series.

I watched the empty branch with horror. The tufted titmouse I had been admiring only a moment ago was suddenly and violently snatched by a stalking Cooper’s hawk. I could hear the bird’s shrill cries as the hawk lifted him away. It was early spring, and I was only slightly comforted by imagining that the hawk would feed the titmouse to her hungry babies.

And so it is in the natural world – and I might suggest the spiritual world, too. Life and death entangled, inseparable. In nature, death is a constant and a necessity. Virtually everything that dies is re-purposed and re-used, all in the service of nurturing new life. And everything must die.

It is tempting to ignore this reality, just as we might want to skip past Maundy Thursday and Good Friday and get right to Easter. But that’s not how the story goes. Suffering and pain and loss are all too real and cannot be avoided, as much as we would like to. If we have learned nothing else this past year, we have learned this.

And yet—we somehow know that through the harshness of winter, spring will emerge—and Easter will come. Poet Barbara Mahany says that “death is the necessary somber note in the song of spring,” and that is why “it takes our breath away.”

How the darkness of the last year will be re-purposed and re-used for transformation and new life is still a mystery. But we trust that it will.

Reflection: What role are you called to play in the re-purposing of this last year and to contribute to transformation in 2021?

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