by Ken Rolheiser
The face of Lent and being a good root

Minnie Pearl’s husband supposedly said she looked like a breath of spring. Minnie replied, “He probably meant I look like the end of a long, cold winter.”

Lent is a time for a refreshing look at our lives. How we look at the end of this Lent is probably an indication of where we are going in life’s journey.

There is so much Good News all about us, even in the March cold and the dreary work-a-day world that saps our energy and time. But God works outside of time.

After Christ’s death on Good Friday he descended into hell to bring the good news of salvation to all who had waited for centuries for the salvation promised by the prophets. The gates of heaven were opened, and indeed, souls like the good thief on the cross could join Jesus “this very day”.

God’s infinite love is our hope. Just as Jesus forgave sinners and rescued them from the absence of heaven, so we also have faith that God works even outside of the constraints of time.

It just struck me recently that you can pray for someone even after an event in time. Someone you love is dying and you pray for them Then you find out God had already called them home. That prayer loses nothing in its effectiveness.

We are sinners still locked in time, but we are surrounded by hope and joy. My granddaughter was singing Hark the Harold Angels Sing this Lent. There are Christmas decorations above her patio door.

Thoughts of the “new born King” are appropriate year round. Too easily we forget how approachable is Our Lord and Savior. Children don’t have that problem.

Recently I observed a flower blossom in dirt and grime. How can such a creative wonder come from dirt and grime. Then I though how we can, with God’s help, take nutrients from the dirt of our lives and produce flowers and fruit.

Father Brendan McGuire shares a Lenten reflection on Christ’s temptation. The Spirit was with Jesus as he went into the wilderness and struggled with the devil. The Spirit stays with us as we fight temptation, and that should give us hope.

Pope Francis was once asked who he is; "I am a sinner,” he replied. You and I can say, “I am a sinner, Lord. Take me back to you. Help me to continue my return this Lent.”

Another way of improving on the fruits of Lent is to follow the prescripts the church gives us. Fasting, prayer and almsgiving are proven tools to help us turn from sins and be faithful to the gospel.

Ash Wednesday’s sign served to humble us and tell us that we are sinners in need of repentance and grace. Fasting helps clear our minds from distractions and focus on prayerful thoughts.

McGuire adds these helpful suggestions this Lent:
Give up something that is really going to hurt.
Give up having the last word.
Give up having to say something or always saying something negative.
Choose to change, and in that discomfort of wanting to say something, say no [to yourself]. And turn toward others.

Whatever swamp or quagmire we find ourselves in this Lent, with the Holy Spirit in us we can be a solid root and push upwards to produce a flower and fruit pleasing to God.

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