Walking in the Garden of Lent

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, and Soccer Dad went on a business trip to North Carolina. Since he was not due there until the afternoon, we all attended a 7:30 Mass across town at the most beautiful church in the area. He checked the weather, packed the few things he’d need overnight, and hopped into the car while we stood in the driveway waving and blowing kisses.

As he drove away, Big Girl said, “Mom! Look at the flowers starting to come up in the garden!”

Now, that garden doesn’t look like much, does it? From a distance, you cannot see the green shoots that are starting to come up around the Blessed Mother. But a closer inspection reveals that crocus flowers and grape hyacinths are starting to send their tiny leaves above-ground.

And another close look reveals that irises are coming up, too. They peek from beneath the dry leaves left over from fall.

Lent is a lot like this garden. As we begin this Liturgical Season, winter is still heavy upon us. Things are cold and dreary outside, and most people would say that Lent feels a little dreary inside, as well. After all, we’ve just put away Christmas and now we have gone from celebration to penitence. From cookies and fun to sacrifice and giving-up. When I made Soccer Dad a cup of coffee yesterday, I thought, “How many days is Lent again?” and wondered if I’d be able to make it through. I feel like the garden looks when you drive by it. Brown, yucky, empty.

But, the fact is, the garden isn’t really empty, and it’s not yucky. (Brown, I’ll give ya’.) But even that brown has a purpose. Those yucky-looking leaves are decomposing, making the soil richer, just as our sacrifices make our souls richer. The leaves give a better crop of flowers, and the sacrifices enable us to reap a beautiful crop of grace and blessings. And the garden isn’t really empty. Those tiny shoots are coming out, reminding us that Spring is coming. It’s nearly here! cry out the tulip shoots.

Just as the garden has tiny shoots of green to let us know Spring is nearly here – we can make it! – Lent is a time that reminds us that the Spring of Easter is nearly here. We can make it! And not just through the sacrifices (as minor as they are when you keep things in perspective), but through life itself. As the green shoots of the crocus plants are a sign of the hope of Spring, Lent is a sign – the very ashes on our foreheads, the first sign – of the hope of our resurrection. Easter is nearly here! Christ is nearly here! He is near! We can make it!

Have a blessed Lent.

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One thought on “Walking in the Garden of Lent

  1. I feel like that yucky brown garden today. Is there hope for me,too? Thanks for reminding me that to the Lord I’m a cute ‘lil crocus waiting to peek at the sun.


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