To what can I compare the purpose of Lent? It is like the breath of God on a frosty morning anticipating the springtime joy of life revived.
Lent, in Christianity, is the 40-day period of fasting and contemplation preceding Easter. It is a time for intentionally identifying with Jesus who, “for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross.”
It is like a prayer for healing our identity as God’s images, expressed in a hymn by the 19th century English theologian Edwin Hatch:
“Breathe on me, breath of God,” the beloved hymn begins, “fill me with life anew, that I may love what Thou dost love, and do what Thou wouldst do.” In that quest for holiness, the hymn pleads for endurance, “until this earthly part of me glows with Thy fire divine.”
Ah yes, the breath of God – the Spirit of God! Amidst life’s pains, it is like the breath that breathes on our Cochrane window panes on bitterly cold mornings, rewarding us with frost patterns beautiful beyond our wildest imaginations – frost patterns that, in their graceful filigrees, speak almost prophetically of the eagerly anticipated arrival of spring and its floral herald, the crocus.
And what a welcome gift the crocus is! By the breath of God, its delicate blossoms rise from once-frozen ground to celebrate new life and hope, a lesson in endurance. Indeed, it is also known as the “resurrection flower,” a symbol of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, and reminder for us not to fear the hardest times, if our quest is nothing less than to be breathed on by the Breath of God.
So, this Lent, O Lord, just as You show Your glory by breathing on frozen glass and ground, breathe on our hearts, too, until we glow with “Thy fire divine.” Amen.
© 2023 Warren Harbeck