There are so many moments to experience the very vastness of the universe and, conversely, the very tiny parts our individual lives represent within that. Before the roar of an ocean or beneath a midnight sky, the finite nature of a single life stands in stark contrast. Therein lies the paradox of existence: the hugeness of personal experience, bonding and growth, family and friendship, the intimacy of quiet and the power of purpose rests within the context of millenuims that house billions of equally unique lives.
The tentative and tender shoots of a springtime crocus redefine human meaning; somehow, those brave and confident greens mirror both the magnitude and the miracle of an individual life. Rooted in the earth, revealed over time, they mature in beauty and diminish far too soon. In the same way, each life cycle shares that pattern and is woven into the larger image.
Lent is the reminder that within the universe each life has momentum and meaning, and yet each is part of the stream of centuries. Each gains meaning from the other; ultimately, each is dependent on the other in the same way the earth provides a home for the crocus. Lent is that time of year when the impact of one upon the other and the importance of personal responsibility are acknowledged, and the reality of a greater collective good demands attention as well as action.
That paradox of being great and small all at once is entirely human: it invites acknowledgment and challenges both ambition and humility. It calls forth more than expected, demands more than can be suspected, accepts the challenge of every choice. Lent enables individuals to find the fullness of life and to trust the mysteries that unfold within the mundane and the ridiculous. But it also invites the attentive to explore the terrain of smallness, the significance of each deep breath and its release.
Lent is the place where the rigors of emotional life are explored and behaviors are understood as choices. What is hard to understand can be examined; what is fair and what is just can be considered, and individual decisions can be juxtaposed with the the needs of the whole however that is defined. Most importantly, Lent is the reassurance that there is always company on the journey even when that seems impossible. There is always the timelessness of the ocean, the steadiness of the sky, and the promise of the crocus.