Ash Wednesday arrived this week, although the Indiana term could be “Mud Wednesday.” Several years ago, I was working in Ohio on Ash Wednesday. There wasn’t time to drive home, change clothes, and still make the church service, so that year my muddy work shoes stayed at the church door while I worshiped in socks. People may return to dust in the arid Holy Land, but the clay loam of Southern Indiana cleaves its own with more permanence.
This year the day finds our back barnlot slick and dark grey, crisscrossed with ruts and hoofprint pockmarks half full of water. The ewes in the barn are at their stoutest – carrying their lambs and covered with nearly a year’s growth of wool. Yesterday morning, sometime close to 3:30, a flash of light arced into the bedroom, and as my pulse revved up towards conciousness, a long rumble of thunder rolled in from the fields. The first thunderstorm of the year. A weak little storm, born and gone in an hour’s time before the first hint of dawn. Now is the beginning of the end of winter.