February 17: The Lengthening of Days

“Remember that you are dust, and to dust, you shall return.” Genesis 3:19.

Ash Wednesday is the starting point that marks a repair of the soul. Lent, itself, maybe the initial stage or that first step in a life-long spiritual effort.

We have the promise of spring only when we take a spiritual journey to the desert, that place of discernment and personal reflection. Despite heavy losses, this spring of 2021 awakens the soul and the ground of new growth.

While driving my car on Carmel Valley Road, I noticed the blooming of the very first cherry blossoms this past weekend. In the fall, we saw the spectacle lighting storms and then the destructive force of fires.

A bit of ash and dust still linger on the deck to my apartment. But the days are lengthening now, a sign of spring.

Lent derives from the idea of added sunlight, the lengthening of days, with its potential for growth, new life, and resurrection.

For Ash Wednesday, the writer Rachel Held Evans has the perfect sentiment about “life to death, death to Life,” she notes:

“We are not spared death, but the power of death has been defeated. The grip of sin has been loosed. We are invited to share the victory to follow the path of God back to life. We have become like seeds about to transform, Paul said. “What you sow does not come to life unless it dies” (1 Corinthians 15:36). Life to death, death to life – like seeds, like soil, like stars.” “Follow the Path of God,” in Give Us This Day, Feb. 2021, page 186.

In a 2015 interview with the Atlantic Magazine, Evans remarked: “Death is a thing that empires worry about, not a thing resurrection people worry about, and as long as people are confessing their sins, healing, walking with one another through suffering, then the Church is alive, and it’s well.”

Rachel Held Evans, a wife, and mother of two young children, passed away two years ago from a brain seizure complication at 37. She lived in Nashville, TN.

“We live inside an unfinished story,” Rachel Held Evans wrote. She was both an accomplished writer and blogger whose Twitter account created a community of women and all those readers who seek faith.

Her pulpit used the latest social media, a gathering place for followers to find safety even in their doubts and learn to believe.

The New York Times called her Twitter account a “hub for the Diaspora,” where she frequently challenged the evangelical and mainline Churches’ leaders.

One of Evans’s Twitter followers commented: “I am still a Christian thanks to you. Your legacy includes the thousands of young women who know God doesn’t hate them.” To be clear, women and young women need a voice.

To my mind, Rachel Held Evans reminds you of our patron Saint Catherine of Siena, who lived and changed her world centuries ago.

Each of us has an “unfinished story.” For this Lent, let’s continue our true journey and thrive as authentic persons in the soil of generosity, mercy, and grace.

Rosary Chapel, Santa Catalina School, Monterey, CA.


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