Retrospect on the Third Week of Lent

We had a big snow last week – not enough to invalidate the snow day calculator, but enough to delay, disturb and discourage the daffodils.  As I walked along the driveway – I was reminded of the magical feeling I had on Christmas Eve as a few brave souls and a few good friends gathered in for midnight mass in the midst of a snowstorm.  In December, it was magical – in March, it is something closer to misery.

Beautiful misery, but nonetheless – discouragement as the buds of spring are waiting to pop and the hibernation of all forms of the animal kingdom has nearly worn out its welcome.  I was pondering all this while counting my steps on a trek through the building when a fourth grader stopped me with his piercing question, “I have a good idea for Lent.”  “What’s that?”  I posed as he joined me on my walk.

“Why don’t you tell all the adults to stop all the shooting and the shouting.  For Lent.  I think it would be a good idea and I think God would be much happier” he suggested with both clarity and definitive expectation.

It stopped me in my tracks.  I wasn’t sure which topic to approach first – violence and his understanding of the world condition – or the fact that he had the misperception that I had any influence large enough to stop the war and start the healing.

I looked at him for a second before he darted off with a quick, “Thanks Sr. Bearss.  See you at lunch.”

That was it – I was left with the prophet having appeared from the fourth grade and the challenges of March Misery-Madness haven been deflated with truth.

Lent offers us truth, but demands action.  It is not enough to hear the challenges of the Gospel – they require something of me.  I may not be able to stop the violence that plagues our cities and threatens our harbors of safety, but I can do something about the wars within my own heart.  It is all about the eyes with which I see the situations that challenge me.  From magical snows of Christmas miracles to the misery of what I don’t want to see in March.  It is the eyes with which I see that creates the difference.

This week, for me, is about seeing differently – and being called to action.

Let us each be the one, like the Samaritan woman from the Sunday Gospel, who steps outside the box of conformity and expectation and dares to reach beyond convention to right action.  Each of us will have the chance this week to fill the jar of someone who stands on the “other side” of the well – the only question will be if we have eyes to see beyond the constraints of our expectations