There are countless things that bring my observance of Lent and the daily changes in our garden into side by side meaning for me – changing my heart in the simple practice of being open to wonder. We planted this small Red Baron peach tree less than a year ago. Flooding in our back yard from a hurricane and unusually long hours of severe freezing temperatures during wintertime appeared to defeat the young fruit tree. It stood, a forlorn stick we thought had not pulled through the trials it faced with roots so newly sunk into our soil. Then came a day when leaf buds tentatively swelled and one small blossom appeared as if dropped onto a twig of a branch, followed by 3 more. I see that small wonder every time I look out the windows near my desk. This morning I read excerpts from a book by Georges Bernanos, The Diary of a Country Priest.. Good words that settled and helped me. The tiny peach tree tells the story too.
“Lent reminds us…conversion is a lifelong process…We never stop starting over.
I fall down. I get up.
Keep marching to the end. Don’t shed your equipment. Keep starting over..”
And when the country priest (who had started over many times in his life) lay dying, he said, “Does it matter? Grace is everywhere.’
We thought our one hard freeze killed this young lemon tree. Even mature citrus trees in our area suffered from the well named “killing” frost. The little tree sat, leaves withered and dropping, until all life appeared extinguished. So we found new green growth and budding leaves a happy surprise. Our lemon tree is a story of Spring and Resurrection in its leaving and returning,
A journey, a pilgrimage! Yet, as we begin it, as we make the first step into the “bright sadness” of Lent, we see far, far, away – the destination. It is the joy of Easter, it is the entrance into the glory of the Kingdom. ~ Alexander Schmemann
I have watched the knobby bare branches of our fig tree spread in the past few months, bereft of any sign of life. Now, suddenly, green buds swell and begin waving tiny green flags announcing the approach of another season of leafing and fruiting.
Morning has broken, like the first morning Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird Praise for the singing, praise for the morning Praise for the springing fresh from the world
Sweet the rain’s new fall, sunlit from heaven Like the first dewfall, on the first grass Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden Sprung in completeness where his feet pass
Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning Born of the one light, eden saw play Praise with elation, praise every morning God’s recreation of the new day
My observance of Lent this year involves fasting, but not from bread or chocolate or TV. I am finding it more difficult to restrict that which is less obvious and tangible, such as multitasking and rushing. I am discovering that this intentionality and focus frees me to new ways of seeing and listening for God’s presence.