Experiencing early spring weather, I was reminded of leaf skeletons. I find them at the bottom of my pool every spring – those decaying but beautiful leaf skeletons that are the final form of last year’s leaves. They have soaked in a chlorine bath for sixth months and become translucent. We see some clinging to branches each winter. Transparent and fascinating. With only the structure of the veins left, you can see the real foundation of the leaf. They will soon decay back into ground, and new things will begin to grow. The branches of the trees are still bare. The flower gardens are barren and waiting. The first hopeful sprouts will begin to peak through as the days get warmer. The time is ripe for spring, ripe for Lent.
The liturgical season of Lent coincides with spring, calling to mind the new life and growth, the hope and change, that should characterize this time of prayer, penance and conversion.
…just as Nature renews herself every spring, so during the Church’s spring we are encouraged to begin anew. We prepare for the renewal of our baptism, we suffer with Christ for our sins, we are buried with Him so that we may also arise with Him to a new life of grace and glory. (Therese Mueller, Our Children’s Year of Grace)
The word Lent is derived from an Anglo-Saxon word lengthen or lencten, meaning “spring.” We are to “spring” into action, to
do the tasks of the season, to prepare for the new growth and graces that overflow from the Resurrection.
Lent is a time to challenge ourselves to choose better things – for our bodies, for our souls, and for our spirits. Joan Chittister, author of The Liturgical Year, says,
Lent enables us to face ourselves, to see the weak places, to touch the wounds in our own soul, and to determine to try once more to live beyond our lowest aspirations.
On Palm Sunday, the very threshold of his death and Resurrection, our Lord assured his followers that “unless the grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat. But if it dies, it produces much fruit.” (John 12: 24) Let us joyfully die to self during this Lenten spring in order to become that fruitful grain of wheat.
Our life can be constantly filled with busyness, stress, and the need to be productive and efficient at all times. So this Lent, try a different strategy and pace. Be transparent to God and to others. Spend time every day in silence and stillness. Treat it as a daily break from that frantic anxiety-filled internal world. It will be inconvenient some days, but we so desperately need it.
How will you make space for new spiritual growth this Lent? Join others on the journey. Invite those seeking God to consider the claims of Christ. Pray for them, bless them; Bring them to Alpha, to church!
In Christ, Pastor Tim