This splendid photo of the bicycle rack outside the Ashmolean was taken by fr Lawrence Lew OP during the recent heavy snow; and as you can see, it made Oxford look really quite delightful . . . for a while.
The problem with snow is that, whilst it covers things up and looks lovely to start with, it rapidly gets marked, and dirty, and horrible - doesn't it ? Of course, seen from a distance it looks wonderful for quite a while; but when you get close, you can see the dirt, and the grime - even, in some places, the dirt it has collected falling through the atmosphere !
Our souls are like that.
Seen from a distance, they don't look so bad. People we meet in public probably think we're quite decent, really. Our friends, of course, know us a bit better, and see some of the grubbiness . . . some of the footmarks; but it's still not too bad.
Our families, the people we live with, see us closest of all; and they see every footstep in the snow . . . even the birds' tiny delicate little footmarks . . . they see every little bit of grime and dirt.
But God : God sees through it all - He doesn't just see the grubby, messy, untidy snow on top - He sees the REAL world underneath the snow - the rubbish in the gutter, the dog mess on the pavements, the vomit from last night's drunk . . .
Lent is our chance to tidy up the city of our Soul; to give it all a 'spring clean' before Easter, so that, when the snow melts, what is exposed is that bright, shining, City of which S. John spoke in the Apocalypse.
As we get closer to Lent, let us start to prepare for it, to make it well, so that it may be for us an occasion of Grace, and a time for true conversion : a Blessing which I wish you all.