It seems that Spring is never going to arrive in Rochester, NY. It actually snowed again this morning. Daffodils and hyacinths are trying to bloom in our garden, but they are struggling to survive. At the beginning of the year, when I realized how late Easter would be this year, I imagined that it would be sunny and warm by April 24. I could not have been more wrong.
The cold, gloomy weather this year has actually suited my Lenten experience. I have been very aware of sadness around me, of how hard people are struggling, of the pain in the world. It’s not that I am dwelling in negativity. I know that there is great joy all around me and that life can be filled with blessings. Still, throughout this Lent, I have been really touched by the painful stories in the news and have felt compelled to pray for people who are in pain.
Sadness, darkness, and cold, wet weather have combined to help me become more empathetic. I think that I am listening more attentively when people talk to me about their pain. I know that I am praying a lot more earnestly for people who I know are struggling. When I read about a tragedy, I have a sense that I must immediately pray for those involved. Then, instead of forgetting about them, I find myself thinking of them and remembering to pray for them throughout the day and for the days that follow.
Life is so fragile and I have felt inspired, this Lent, to be aware of those who have lost a loved one. When I hear or read about a loss, I add the family to my prayers. It feels as though, all throughout Lent, I have been collecting a group of people to carry with me and pray for and hold in my heart. I feel the weight of them with me, but it does not seem like a burden. I realized tonight that carrying this group of people has shaped my Lent. They are my companions on my Lenten journey. They do not know I have been praying for them. Most of them do not even know me. But I feel as if I know each of them in a real and intimate way. I have been honored to pray for them, to share their sorrow, to carry part of their burden for a little while. It has been a great sacrifice and a great blessing to walk with them this Lent.