Rainfall of Grace

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Dear POP Folks,

There's a unique kind of irony in the fact that Lent (the word means "spring") starts with Ash Wednesday.  The coming of spring traditionally has involved opening the windows and doors after the cold of winter and sweeping the dust from the floor and the rafters, from under the furniture, and over the light fixtures.  Even as we embrace this time of spring cleaning, we come to church to be reminded that we ARE dust.
  
Dust cries out for moisture so that it can become mud, moist soil.  That's the place where seeds are welcomed and growth takes place.  Only when the dust meets water can flowers and fruits and vegetables and life itself begin to take their place in creation.

Remember our parish theme this Lent?  " Give me water so I may not thirst?"  (John 4:15).  It is the sinner's cry; it is our cry to God.  
         
Think for a moment of the places in your life which are dominated by sin - bad habits, imperfections.  Picture them as dry dust or hardened, rain-starved earth.  These places can be characterized by their lack of hope.  I may hear myself say, "I'm too old to change. This is just the way I am.  I've tried.  I'll never be any different."  This is like pulling a piece of thick plastic over a spot of earth:  it deflects the rainfall and keeps the soil dry and parched.

Lent, as a time of conversion, is a season of special grace in my life.  It's a time of victorious hope.  Where can I go to find this hope?

First I go to prayer, alone and in silence.

Then I listen to a message of one of the three great Lenten stories:  the woman at the well, the man born blind or the resurrection of Lazarus.  Each of these comes from John's Gospel:  4:5-42 or 9:1-41 or 11:1-45.

After slowly reading the story with a listening heart, I lay aside the Bible, close my eyes, and "see" the place of sin and darkness in my life as hardened or dry dust.  Then I allow myself to see the rainfall of grace, the gentle dew of God's love being poured onto that place of dryness.  I soak it up.  I drink it in.  I accept the rain of God's healing into the desert of my own dryness.

As I visualize this image, it is really happening.  It's the healing power of God soaking into my parched soul.  It gives me strength and hope.

It's spring.  Let the rains come.

 Father John