During one of our visits with my sister in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Beverly, my sister Mary, and I made a
day trip to the old turquoise and coal mining town of Madrid, which is now an inspiring and unique location for held
over hippie artists. Along the way there, we decided to make a stop at Cerrillos, a nearly forgotten, semi ghost
town, off the main road. Riding past its few locked and darkened business establishments, we
came upon an old and dusty rock and hodgepodge shop, leaning beneath cottonwood trees and
surrounded by ancient buckboards which had long ago circled and died in their tracks. And,
what a surprise! It was open.
Being the very type of place that quickens my heart, there was no way I was going to
pass it up, regardless of the lower level of enthusiasm of Beverly and my sister. After
marveling at and touching most of the treasures in the store, I spied something unusual on a
cluttered table near the back. I was told by the owner that these items were crucibles, used in
the assay of ore samples for gold content, during prospecting times of the past. You might be
wondering what this has to do with a Lenten devotional. A whole bunch, when you think
about it.
Lent is a special time for Christians, a time when you could almost confuse it with prospecting for gold.
Even the words used to describe either could be used for both – prospecting, examination of conscience, assay,
reflection, refine, rededication. When I was growing up, it was the usual thing for ladies to have a jewelry box, and,
in that special box of keeping and remembering would be some corner holding broken pieces of jewelry, usually
of gold, precious not primarily for monetary value but for what they signified in their lives. Perhaps a broken anklet
from a child’s infancy, a watchband from a now stilled graduation gift, an earring from a separated pair, a section
of a necklace from a long ago sweetheart, a wedding ring from a spouse, achingly missed.
It is not intended that Lent should end with examination and regret, or that life should end with brokenness
and purposelessness. I have not actually seen it done, but I have heard it said that ladies have had a goldsmith place
the broken pieces of golden jewelry in a crucible, expose them to extreme heat in a kiln, skim off surfacing
impurities, pour the molten metal into a mold, forming a new treasure, proudly to be worn. To me, that’s what the
season of Lent seems to be about, a time of reflecting, an assaying of our life and a time of allowing God’s
inextinguishable, refining care to transform our brokenness into newness of life.
– Jim Flanagan

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