by Kate O’Donnell.
"The Lenten spring has come." So proclaims one of the songs we sing at Madonna House in early Lent.
Thus is proclaimed a time of prayer and fasting, a time of shaking up the status quo within ourselves. Thus is proclaimed a time of readying ourselves to be able to see and touch the light of the Risen Christ at Easter.
One day in Lent, in one of our mission houses, I entered the chapel to find the Christmas cactus in bloom: one single, solitary blossom to grace our house.
It is always a delight when a plant blooms, but this one was special, for it assuaged my heavy thoughts about fasting and penance with a sign of hope, of a possible becoming. How? Well…
I thought about what it had taken to produce that bloom. Prior to Christmas, it had led a comfortable life, well-watered, good soil, diligent care, very little stress in its life. But it did not flower.
Thinking it over, the person taking care of the plants decided to water it less. After all, it was a cactus. Still no blossom.
Then one day, someone accidentally knocked the plant to the floor. It was shaken up a bit, but the pot was still intact. The plant was straightened, and the soil patted down around it.
A while later, it was knocked to the floor again. This time the pot was smashed and the roots were exposed. Time was tight when it happened, so another pot was quickly chosen, and the plant was almost slapped into its new home.
The plant was almost forgotten in the business of everyday life; it received only occasional attention and watering. But it seemed to thrive under the stress and, one day, it suddenly blossomed!
As I looked at the flower, I realized that Lent is really a gift. The blossom spoke to me of the results of the fasting and praying, the penance, and the readying ourselves for Easter glory.
Lent may be stressful, perhaps arid, yet the blossom comes. And the Resurrection is.
—From Restoration April 1981
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