In this first week of Lent, I am realizing how my heart is being purified to be undivided. It has been a challenging week where we truly entered the frigid desert here in Texas with a historic storm that crippled our infrastructure. This arctic storm took away our power and electricity, water, internet, and spotty phone service. To whom did I turn?
I like my routine, and this really threw me off. It foiled my plans to start the Blessed is She Lent devotional Set a Fire, the Magnificat Lenten Journey, and Word on Fire reflections. Rather than having my one cup of coffee I am limiting myself to during lent and my holy hour, I found myself driving around in the car to keep my husband warm to stave off pneumonia, and charging my cell phone to continue contact with the outer world.
Not the perfect start to Lent as I had hoped but I saw the angels among us. Like our sweet son and his roommate, who did not lose power, offering to switch living spaces with us. Or a friend with a back-up generator inviting us to stay with them. COVID-19 and risk of any exposure kept us from accepting any of these kindnesses and we drove. We drove and drove and drove looking for an open restaurant that had hot food. We finally found one lone Panda Express drive thru where we waited in line for 45 minutes to partake in a limited menu. We were grateful.
A year into the pandemic, on top of true isolation due to my husband’s bone marrow transplant and now the weight of this storm, I truly felt I was in the desert. I tend to crave the normalcy, distractions and comfort of my previous life. Where do I turn to quench my thirst, ease my mind, and strengthen my soul?
Creating space for silence has been a big shift for me and opened my heart in ways I never thought possible. I was fortunate to talk about this in a recent Catholic Woman article. The silence is where we learn, are challenged, and grow. It is where we decrease, and He increases.
Just as Jesus suffered and was tempted by Satan, during Lent we are called to enter the desert of our own lives. What are you being called to purify in your heart this Lent?
Through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, God prunes our hearts as we are united to Christ and his suffering. These practices of good works help give us strength to resist sin and to follow in His footsteps. The Master gardener wants to prune the weeds of destruction we cause ourselves and others and purify us toward love.
During the storm, I may not have had my traditional holy hour, but my heart was in constant prayer. Prayers of intercession for the homeless who were freezing on the street, the elderly who were home alone with no power and running out of oxygen in their tanks to breathe and the new mother in a frigid apartment with a one-month-old baby. Prayers of meditation through the rosary and the beautiful mysteries of our Lord’s life that show us the path to walk with him. Prayers of gratitude for warmth in our master bedroom, a car full of gas to stay warm in, saving enough water to boil, a friend who is continuing to fight the good fight after complications of a bone marrow transplant and having a son-in-law with internet to post our Ash Wednesday blog, Hope is Not Cancelled. (I am convinced the Spirit was at work both with the topic and prompting me to have the article ready the Monday prior to posting and right before I lost power!) Prayers of praise acknowledging God’s goodness and grace in my life. Rather than being caught up in the minor inconveniences this storm brought our way, I was able to see through the eyes of Jesus. This was the journey of my soul during these days without the usual distractions and surrendering to the true powerlessness in my life. An undivided heart.
One of the things I saved and brought inside prior to the freeze were my herbs that I planted last summer. I have never been a gardener like my grandmother, mother, and sister, but had recent success this past year growing herbs in planters. My usual mode of operation is to under or over water my potted plants each year and kill them within a few weeks. I have learned that there is a balance. When I pay attention to the plants, look at the soil to determine if they need water and prune the dead parts the herb grows stronger. This is what the Master gardener, Our Creator wants to do with our hearts. He knows us and what we need before we even need it. He wants us to be aware and invite Him into our places of need. Only He can quench the thirst of my soul.
My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.Focus on His truth, Psalm 63:1
Only a few days into the desert, I am noticing one of the crosses I bear is my divided heart. My soul desires to be immersed in the goodness of God versus being preoccupied with the temporary things of this world. I contemplate am I bringing all my feelings to prayer – anger, fear, and mistrust as well as generosity, goodwill, and gratitude? I know I have more anxiety when I do not surrender and keep an eternal perspective. By bearing this cross of a divided heart and walking through my desert, I can see my continued conversion when I seek God to quench my thirst and allow Christ to live in me.
From the cross, Jesus said, “I thirst.” That thirst was for all people to be reconciled to the Father. It was a thirst for souls to return to the love of God and find their way to the heavenly Kingdom. When I come to God with the dryness of my soul, He fills it with the living water and gradually I see the events of my life through the wisdom and detachment my spiritual relationship provides.
May we all be Smitten with goodness,