We who live in temperate climates are privileged to experience God’s love in relation to the changing of the seasons. Especially in the country, each liturgical time and feast can be marked by planting and harvesting, snow or rain, even the blooming of a particular flower.
Here in Missouri, the months of February and March are a long, cold slog toward a promise. For each day of spring sunshine there are two of rain. Cold winds scour the fields. Frost creeps in overnight to take back territory from the greening grass. We dare not get too excited, jump the gun, plant anything too tender. This time of year will break our hearts. So we settle for spinach and peas and potatoes. Then we yearn. Impatiently. The warm days are close. The spring bulbs are appearing above the mud. But the time is not quite yet.
“Lent,” says my parish deacon, “is the spring fever of the love for God.”
We know that the Resurrection is coming. So we prepare ourselves with prayer and penance and mortification of the flesh. But we are weak and slogging. For each day of discipline, there are two of failure. Sin creeps in overnight to take back territory. Each day we settle for what little we can scratch out in the cold soil of our hearts. We can see the flowers of our labor slowly rising from the mud. But the time is not quite yet. So we yearn. Impatiently.
Lent is the restless, struggling, tugging, scouring spring fever of the love for God. It is no longer enough to read about Him or wish for His coming. We need to be in the garden of His presence and feel His warmth. We need it now, yesterday, a desire so strong it makes us pace and itch.
It is Passiontide. Just a little while longer. Rededicate yourself to prayer. Redouble your penance. We are so close. At the end of winter is spring. At the end of Lent is Easter. At the end of death is life.