Wednesday, March 9, 2011
I have been a Catholic for 68 years and today I found out what the word Lent means;it is an Anglo-Saxon word meaning Spring.And today there is just enough yellow,white and pink out in the woods to suggest this.Bradford pears are fuller with white puffs then I ever remember and those blessed daffodils are drooping with the raindrops on their petals.But fittingly for a day that starts a season of repentance and struggling to find what is truly important in life,it is grey and somber.
The word "focus" has been coming and going in my mind for a few days now,leading up to Lent.
And today, as John and I drove away from Dogwood Trace,an assisted living home, it came to me what a gift that is in a life.
We took ashes to a widowed shut-in from our church.Mona is 86 years old and is mostly blind and has some hearing loss.She uses a a walker and falls frequently.She couldn't go to church because of the bruises from her last fall.And yet, she is Springtime.She is laughter,listening,gratitude and sunshine.
A lit white candle,softly read scripture and then the ancient words were intoned:"Man, thou are dust and into dust you shall return.",while I signed her forehead with a black cross.We then sat in silence.
Mona is visited by many in our church and she always asks how we are and listens.She tells family stories and tales of the ladies she has lunch with;all in love and good humor.She should charge for the lessons in aging gracefully that she is giving me.She does not ruminate on her limitations.Her grace comes from her focus on prayer,her Lord and her family.This holy demeanor has developed over years of single-minded love of God and others.
When we were leaving,she thanked us and laughed, telling us that soon she would be ashes and so would we!Yes, and before that happens this is my prayer from today"s readings:
"A clean(singleminded)heart create for me,O God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me." Ps 51:12