by Chris Koellhoffer, IHM, March 24, 2017
So much is in bud, the poet Denise Levertov tells us. In the Northern hemisphere we might add: even when buried under 2 feet of snow. Even when assaulted by fierce, unrelenting wind. Even when held firmly in the grip of unforgiving cold.
Can we hear the whisper, barely audible yet quite emphatic, that is the call of spring? Have we noticed the lub-dub of the beating heart of our planet? The irrepressible longing of the Earth moving towards greening? Have we heard the summons towards newness of life that will not be ignored or denied?
In my part of the world where there are usually marked differences in the seasons, spring is not a time of ripening but a season of possibility and the dreams that are the stuff of longing. Already, impatient snowdrops and courageous crocus have broken ground. The forsythia bush is putting out tentative, promising buds. Indoors, my housemates—a family of African violets and English ivy–peer out at their relatives in the front yard and feel a kinship as they lean towards the light together.
Is it any wonder that, here in the Northern hemisphere, the liturgical season of Lent runs parallel to the natural season of spring? The word “Lent”, after all, comes from the Old English “lencten” and the German “Lenz”, meaning spring. And in Old German, related translations of Lent uncover the word, “long,” reflecting the lengthening of days as we journey toward ever increasing daylight. Or perhaps the root meaning should really be not “long” but “long-ing,” reflecting the desire of all creation for greening and growth.
Can we imagine our Lenten hearts erupting in the Song of Songs (2:10-11)?
“Arise, my friend, my beautiful one, and come!
For see, the winter is past, the rains are over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth…”
May we move into this springtime of the liturgical year with what John Soos names as
“the restlessness of being a seed
the darkness of being planted
the struggle toward the light
the pain of growth into the light
the joy of bursting and bearing fruit
the love of being food for someone…” (To Be of the Earth)
May we begin this springtime of the heart seeking wholeness and a stillness which is generative.
May we tend to our profound hunger for the Holy and the deep longing of the Holy for each one of us.
May we lean towards the light and live lives of meaning beyond ourselves.
May we, in the prayer of the Chinook Psalter,
“be touched by grace, fascinated and moved by this your creation,
energized by the power of new growth at work in your world…
May our bodies, our minds, our spirits learn a new rhythm paced by the rhythmic pulse of the whole created order.
May spring come to us, be in us, and recreate life in us.”
Blessings on these remaining days of Lent!
What seeds do you hope to plant and nurture in your life today?
What might God be longing to green and grow in you?
My thanks for your prayerful support of days of retreat and reflection in the past two weeks in Sullivan County, NY; Port Washington, NY; and Springfield Gardens, NY.
Please continue to hold in your prayer these upcoming events:
March 25-29: “Walking the Lenten Journey with Jesus,” Parish Lenten mission, St. Susanna Church, Penn Hills, PA
April 8: Lenten retreat day for parishioners of Christ the King Church, Springfield Gardens, NY at Our Lady of Grace Center, Manhasset, NY
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