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Once every three years, and this is one such year, we get this particular cycle of Lenten readings known as the Scrutinies. The first is story of the Woman at the Well, the second is the man blind from birth who is healed, and the third is the story of Lazarus.

The Lenten readings that constitute the Scrutinies invite us to scrutinize ourselves. We don't need to do it at the beginning of Lent as much as we need to do it over the entire Lenten period. Of course, this is what we can achieve by "giving something up"--examining our relationship to it--but if we merely give it up and don't give it another thought other than how much nuisance it is, it's not self scrutiny.

The woman at the well starts the story in a state of sin and ends up with grace. The man born blind starts out blind and of course can see. And Lazarus starts the story dead and comes to light.

Sin to grace, blindness to sight, death to life. What is there in our lives that is sinful? Where is our blindness? In what areas are we--dead? Our self-examination can continue well past Shrove Tuesday, and it needn't end today, indeed, it is encouraged that it continue through all of Lent. These things can be tough on one. But their end result is as sudden and dramatic a flowering as a tulip from a bulb, and by Easter Sunday we are in a position to celebrate all the renewal that is attendant to spring.

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