Cross Words -Lent 2021 by Fr. Rick Cross


C r o s s



      S              “On a Lenten journey…the night before surgery”

As the authors of Daily Prayer for All Seasons wrote in the introduction to the section on Lent,

Figuring out how to keep a holy Lent can be a challenge, but if we move beyond the popular conceptions (and misconceptions), Lent holds the possibility for real change…in our lives, as well as for rich and lasting spiritual growth. (The word “lent” comes from the Anglo-Saxon word lencton, referring to the springtime of the year when the days grow longer and warmer and brighter.

During Lent, we as individual Christians…consider our spiritual health. How are we living the gospel in our lives, our homes, our churches, our towns, our schools, our places of work? What areas of growth or signs of renewal should we celebrate with gratitude and joy? [ How have we missed the mark of recognizing and nurturing new life wherever it may have appeared, however strange or frightening it may have seemed? ]         (p.60-61)

This emphasis on the springtime and nurturing new growth makes great sense to me this year, when enduring the Pandemic has almost felt like a prolonged Lenten season since last year. And I do not mean to neglect the traditional discipline of reflecting how we may have become separated from sources of new life or experienced brokenness with a spring mentality. We have a Confession because sins exist.

As I approach my surgery at Maine Medical Center tomorrow, I am trying to accept this health issue as my Lenten journey this year. It is certainly a contrast to what I usually joke about as my “Lenten retreat” in Florida!

So I am reflecting and trying to focus on signs of growth and renewal already sprouting. Perennial pastor, caregiver that I am, I have learned to ask for some help and support from all of you in the congregation and from friends near and far. That vulnerable act has shown me loving gestures I had neglected to receive and recognize. Even tough old Yankee farm boy priests need to ask for and accept help!

Yes, I confess not taking good care of my body and not eating as healthy a diet as I knew was proper. (I love Dunkin’ donuts and McDonald’s fries.) I will try to turn around and change. The new growth of springtime is the falling numbers on my bathroom scales. I have needed to loose excess weight for many years. This is a substantial turn-around for a senior like me. I am claiming this new shoot of green life as a Lenten blessing. This health crisis has brought my life to a screeching halt in several ways. Possibilities for change have hit me in the face. I do believe God’s presence is in it all, not as a cause, but in the possibilities.

I encourage you to reflect on even some small aspect of your life where you may recognize the existence or possibility for change leading to growth and deepening of the Spirit. It doesn’t have to be by-pass surgery; maybe some small habit or obstacle in a relationship that could be changed. The healing power of God’s Spirit is already at work in our lives and in the world. The light of days is increasing. The temperatures may eventually be warmer. Let’s encourage one another to look for Crocuses and green Daffodil shoots along this season’s Lenten journey.

O God of gentle strength, your love embraces me.

Within the sureness of your care my heart rests willingly.

Your waters of rebirth have claimed us as your own.

As members of one body, we shall never be alone.

And when life’s challenges eclipse our minds with doubt,

Let holy wisdom spark a flame to drive the darkness out.

Where will the journey lead? The path may be obscure.

But promised hope of things unseen will keep our footing sure.

(Hymn 770 and 771, Wonder Love and Praise, words Patricia B. Clark)

Toward Easter together,  Rick