Reflecting on Lent and renewal

“If today you hear God’s voice, harden not your heart.” ~Psalm 95

“Lent is a great and holy time to renew yourself in God,” Miss Murray (a very special teacher) said to me in fourth grade, and I’ll never forget the impact of what that meant. A special time, Lent is a sacred season in which we set our worldly wants carefully aside — it is a time to pray, to reflect on encountering Christ.

Miss Murray had a profound influence on my life. She was young and vibrant, full of love and hope. Everything she did was filled with joy. “Come, girls. See the buds and feel the sun,” she’d invite when the dogwoods were in bloom. At our school for the blind we had beautiful gardens, lush meadows, and lovely tall trees. “Reach up, touch the blossoms — aren’t they pretty?” she would ask as I breathed in their gentle fragrance with awe.

St. Peter's Cathedral

St. Peter’s Cathedral

For me, Lent is like the buds that come out every spring. Indeed, even though we think of Lent as a somber time for penance and self-denial (as is surely fitting), the fruits of our efforts at putting ourselves voluntarily aside are renewal, joy, and transformation. As we go deep inside in honest self-reflection, we can then make conscious efforts to correct our faults. As we do the hard work of “spring cleaning for our souls,” beautiful new buds soon blossom.

As minutes slip by, day by day — like grains of sand, one by one, passing through an hourglass — each moment is like precious glistening gold! Though I knew Miss Murray so long ago, to this day in her words I hear a call to wake up and come alive! As she urged, “Don’t let your heart be dead or fast asleep, but let your heart be warmed by the coming of spring.”

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