Our theme for Lent comes from the 17th century French philosopher, writer and physicist, Blaise Pascal, who wrote: “In difficult times, carry something beautiful in your heart.” The forty-day season of Lent has traditionally been a time of preparation for the great joy of Easter. Forty days set aside for prayer, fasting, increased service and generosity. The spiritual work of Lent might itself be described as “a difficult time,” as we are invited into deeper honesty in our relationship with God, with our brothers and sisters, with the planet itself. We are drawn into confession and repentance as we make the forty-day walk into the workings of our soul and the living of our faith.
We experience other kinds of “difficult times” as well. Surely these last two years of the COVID pandemic have been difficult in many ways around the world. War and rumors of war cloud the horizon. Polarization in our nation keeps us wary and weary of one another. And, of course, we all experience difficult times in our own lives in the loss of a loved one or job, a troubled relationship, or economic challenges. In difficult times, life can feel like walking through a dark forest, hoping to find our way home, the path overgrown with brush and weeds.
“In difficult times,” Pascal wrote, “carry something beautiful in your heart.” May our Lenten spiritual work this year be a time to identify that “something beautiful” and keep it in our heart. What might that “beautiful something” be? The care of good neighbor. A kind word offered. A prayer shared. The rosy glow of dawn. A bird’s song to welcome Spring. The grace of God healing our hearts. The exuberance of a daffodil. An insistence on hope. The melody of peace.
As we walk the path of Lent this year, let’s each remember every day to carry something beautiful in our heart. For truly, the stone will be rolled away and the tomb will be empty. In beauty may we walk.