The Journey of Lent is Like Tending a Garden

02-11-2018Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Gregory B. Wilson, VF

I notice after the 4 PM Mass on Saturdays that there is now a decent amount of light. Now after days of darkness and long nights, we can now look forward to springtime when, several minutes at a time, each day lengthens. Yes, on Groundhog Day it was announced that there were at least 6 more weeks of winter, but we need to remember we are now halfway through the cold and icy season. My daydreaming and thoughts have now shifted towards my flower gardens.

I am thinking about what I need to do when it all starts to awaken in late March. What did I forget to divide, what did I not weed before late Fall and how did some of my new plantings winter-over this past year? Remember that the word "lent" comes from the Anglo-Saxon root lencten, which means "to lengthen." Because the word applies to the lengthening of days it once came to be synonymous with springtime. Have you not seen the lengthening of the daylight?

Flowers do not grow wonderful and good on their own in flower beds, even if the plants are perennials. Every year we must prepare the soil. This is basic, but actually this first step is the most important. Then we can divide plants if it is the right time, sow seeds and put in new plants. In the following weeks, we must weed the beds, turn the soil, nurture the ground, and prune the plants until, at last, they grow strong and blossom at their proper time. The flowering of various plants during the long beautiful summer and fall season is the result of the hard work. From beginning to end, the whole process is life-giving in so many ways if we stay at the tasksfaithfully.

If we remember the goal, then our early and mid-season days will have great meaning when the flowering begins. The forty days of Lent give us the graced opportunity to prepare the soil of our own personal lives, also continue to nurture our inner being, and connect our daily life more closelywith our God. The journey of Lent is like tending a garden, in that it subtly and profoundly is a lifegiving experience that is intended to change us byEaster.

In our Church history, Lent focused on those who prepared for baptism and as well for those who walked with them to prepare for new life in Jesus Christ. Hopefully, each one of us continues each day to walk toward God, and the Season of Lent provides us with a special pathway for this walk. During the days of Lent we pray, fast, and share our personal gifts withothers. There are many reminders throughout Lent that our goal is moving toward the new life found in Jesus Christ. Beginning with Ash Wednesday and continuing for over six weeks to the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday, we journey through quiet days of growth that lead to new birth in the life of Jesus Christ.

We are privileged to begin the season of Lent by having the shape of a cross traced on our foreheads. We know that in most cultures ashes represent mourning and contrition. On Ash Wednesday in our culture today, they seem to symbolize our own finitude and mortality. Our Scripture of Gospel during Lent for two Sundays tell us about Jesus' temptations and transfiguration. The following three Sundays then tell us of the sacred mystery of death and resurrection. The season of Lent culminates with the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday, which begins the Triduum, a three-day feast that reaches its high point at the Easter Vigil.

The great goal and end point of Lent is that we are truly changed by Easter. Through prayer, fasting, and sharing with others we enter a new plane of life that is a closer communing with our God and deeper relationship with the people in our lives.