Photo of grey skies over VancouverPhoto: © robertnowland/iStock.com

Under Stormy Skies

Living through the long wait for Easter.

March 2, 2017 by Lieutenant Kristen Jackson-Dockeray


It feels like the sky is eternally grey in Vancouver. I’m pretty sure it has been raining or cloudy ever since we moved here last July. It’s hard to remember when I last saw a sliver of sun cut across my window. It’s already dark and depressing by 4:30 in the afternoon.

I want to skip this season of darkness. I want to get out of town, drive to California, fly to Hawaii—anywhere the sun is shining.

Alas, I am here, in dreary Vancouver, waiting for spring, waiting for new life, waiting for flowers and grass and summer camp. A season of waiting, matched by the season of the church year: Lent (which is actually an Anglo-Saxon word for spring).

Growing up, I learned little about Lent, the season of fasting and prayer before Easter, and nothing about Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent. But while at training college in blustery Winnipeg, I was introduced to the church calendar and fell in love with the way it calls us to the life of faith in each season. For me, there is something deeply comforting about the rhythm of living out the Christian story throughout the year.

So as I stare out my window into the abyss of a grey-streaked sky, I am reminded of ashes and Lent. I am reminded of the darkness, the grief, the sometimes inescapable sorrow of our existence. And it is here, under the shadow of storm clouds and drizzly rain, that I long for Jesus. I long to sit by his dusty feet to lament, to send up to the heavens an authentic prayer that invites God to meet me right where I am, not where I pretend to be.

Maybe it’s all sunshine and roses where you are in life. But if you, too, are surrounded by an all-consuming grey cloud, consider observing Lent this year.

I read the Litany of Penitence in the Book of Common Prayer, knowing I am repeating the words along with those who have come before me and those who will come after me: “Most holy and merciful Father: we confess to you and to one another and to the whole communion of saints in heaven and on earth, that we have sinned by our own fault in thought, word and deed; by what we have done and by what we have left undone.”

Confession and repentance remind us that God is God, and we are not. Admitting our mortality and brokenness brings strange hope. Ashes on our forehead remind us of our death and our rebirth. It is only as we bring our lament to God that we can feel truly loved by God.

Maybe it’s all sunshine and roses where you are in life. But if you, too, are surrounded by an all-consuming grey cloud, consider observing Lent this year.

Lieutenant Kristen Jackson-Dockeray is the divisional youth secretary in the British Columbia Division.


Questions for Lent

1. When I wake up on Resurrection Sunday, how will I be different?

2. Is there a habit or sin in my life that repeatedly gets in the way of loving God with my whole heart or loving my neighbour as myself? How can I address this habit over the next 40 days?

3. What spiritual discipline do I need to improve on or try?

4. What do ashes mean to me this year?

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