Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 17, 2003
Sow your seeds of summer for Lent
By MSGR. JIM LISANTE
True, this phrase is usually associated with Christmastime. In many ways, though, it is now, when the short days of winter melt into spring just as the sombre days of Lent glide toward Easter, that we become most aware of the flow of time in nature and in our lives.
Maybe it's because this has been a fairly rough winter that so many of us seem to be longing for spring. That - and the great political, economic and social turbulence around us - prods us into more reflection and retrospection than any New Year's resolutions ever could.
The very word for Lent is from the Old English for spring, and here in the northern hemisphere, the two seasons have become inextricably joined. By tradition, after all, those prolific Easter bunnies bring baskets full of colourful Easter eggs. And it's hard to imagine images more evocative of rebirth and renewal.
And just as spring warms us after winter and takes us into a bright, burgeoning future, Easter morning promises life, hope and eternity. Over the centuries, fasting, penance and prayer have been the hallmarks of those who use liturgical seasons for spiritual growth.
I believe that they are just as needed today, but, by themselves, they are not enough.
I believe we need to take time for ourselves - to think and to do.
We need time to consider who we are and where we are in relation to God and his people, and in relation to ourselves as we were yesterday and as we want to be tomorrow.
We need to stop and examine our consciences, a phrase that seems to have gone out of style, not only in connection with contrition and Confession, but also as a matter of changing and growing and transforming ourselves.
We need to open ourselves to God's grace and will, so that we can become that special person God intended all along.
We need to nurture our beliefs, our hope and our love through acts of faith, hope and charity.
We need God.
Teresa of Avila, a great saint who combined the mystical and the practical in her life, compared spiritual development with tending a garden. She wrote: "Beginners must realize that in order to give delight to the Lord they are starting to cultivate a garden on very barren soil, full of weeds. God pulls up weeds and plants good seed. . . .
"And with the help of God we must work like good gardeners to get these plants to grow and take care to water them so that they don't wither but come to bud and flower. . . . Then God will often come to take pleasure in this garden."
She continues, "Is it possible, Lord, for a soul which has received such blessings as you have bestowed on my soul, still to remain so hard and stubborn? Yes, I know it is possible, because I so frequently rebuff your advances and reject your blessings. . . .
"Teach me, Lord, to sing of your mercies. Turn my soul into a garden, where the flowers dance in the gentle breeze, praising you with their beauty."
Before the Easter lily trumpets its majesty, the humble crocus breaks through the last of the snow. Celebrate them both. Celebrate our Creator and the life he shares with us each day of each season.
(For a free copy of the Christopher News Note, Being a Good Neighbour, write: The Christophers, 12 East 48 St., New York, NY, 10017; or e-mail: email@example.com.)
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