We Need a Little Springtime

In my part of the world, the spring equinox took place yesterday at exactly 5:29 a.m. It excites me to think of the new growth, emerging beauty, and resurgence of life that it brings. I want to stand in the sun and let it warm me from the outside in.

Springtime is a season of earth that mirrors the spiritual transformation of Lent. The Scriptures speak of those whose hearts have been “turned away from the Lord” and are like “barren bushes in the wasteland that enjoy no change of season.” Imagine what it would be to have no rhythm of seasons, to never have spring!  

With effort, we can move out of spiritual barrenness. Whatever seems dead in us—might it be enthusiasm, kindness, hope?—-if tended and pruned, will begin to blossom again. As we move through these weeks of Lent, it’s very helpful to consciously choose practices that open us to conversion.  Jesus invites us to this springtime of the soul which we all need.

With St. Angela at the Cross

From the first time I saw this icon of St. Angela at the foot of the cross I was drawn to it. While others in the piece are repelled, restrained or fearful, Angela approaches, falls to her knees and adores the Crucified One. I imagine Angela pouring out her heart to Jesus.

Here’s a suggestion for prayer today and throughout the remaining weeks of Lent. Consider it a form of visio divina—a method of praying with art or other media. Sit quietly and let your imagination lead you to Angela’s side. Simply gaze at this icon while listening to the song Prayer Before the Cross by John Michael Talbot.


Be Still

Winds were strong in Joplin, Missouri yesterday. It’s my first time here, and I couldn’t help but think of the deadly and costly tornado that struck this city in 2011. I also thought the blustery winds were a good metaphor for life today.  National and world events explode daily into violent storms; people’s lives change in an instant.  In the midst of it all, God continues to whisper, “Be still and know that I am God.”

So it is these days that we encourage students making the Busy Person Retreat at Missouri Southern State University to Breathe, just breathe” as Jonny Diaz sings. Rest a few moments at the feet of Jesus and let him calm the chaos of daily life. Find the integration and meaning you seek in this friend who says, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” Breathe, be still, listen—these are practices that are perfect for Lent and for every season.

At Lent’s Doorstep

We stand on Lent’s doorstep. Yes, today is Mardi Gras—a day of parties and feasting. But when tomorrow dawns we begin our Lenten journey. I recently came across this quote from Pope Francis: “Lent comes providentially to reawaken us, to shake us from our lethargy.” The image of being shaken from lethargy is a strong one. It seems as if so much has gone on—and continues to happen—to shake me from my lethargy. Can there possibly be more? Can I handle any more?

Our regular Backlit readers know that we share Lenten resources here as a help for prayer. Here are a few that you might find helpful. If you know of others, please share them with us.bible-cross-paper_1

Smiling in Ireland

img_6448I’ve been in Ireland for 2 weeks, and my heart’s been smiling since I landed. Sent to visit the Irish Ursulines, I have the privilege and gift of meeting our sisters in 8 different locations.  Travels to Dublin and Sligo, Shannonbridge, Thurles, Waterford, Cork, plus 2 places in Wales keep me on the move, but the countryside and seacoasts along the way could not be more beautiful.  Sheep grazing in fields and quaint little towns are better than any photos I’ve seen.  And in each Ursuline house, there is gracious welcome, good Irish wit, introductions to colleagues and villagers, and the joy of sharing St. Angela’s spirit and Ursuline mission.

Here’s a little blessing prayer I’ve picked up that you can pray with me:

Arise with me in the morning; travel with me through each day. Welcome me on my arrival; God be with me all the way.