Being a man from rural Michigan you may think I have a green thumb. Well you would be wrong. I worked every year in the family garden out of necessity. Yet, if it was not for the guidance of my mom and dad our harvest would have been quite small. Why am I bring up my lack of skills with plants? During my time in a rehab center I received two plants as part of horticultural therapy sessions. During these sessions one of the plants I received was called the Arrowhead plant. Over the weeks this plant has taught me a way of entering the journey of the Easter season.
The leaves of this plant are in the shape of an arrowhead. The leaves are quite big and many of them point in one direction. What direction do they point in? Always towards the sun. Since, receiving this plant it has traveled with we to multiple locations. At each location, once the plant is placed in the desires spot I noticed, over a few days, the leaves move in the direction that offers the plant the greatest amount of sunlight. The movement of this plant is utterly astounding to me. Why? Easter is the time when we are called to face the light.
A Movement of the Heart
Lent is a season that wakes us up to what exists in our hearts. This gaze that the season of Lent provides us, also offers us a freedom. The freedom given in Lent is realized to its fullest via the Triduum and embraced during Easter. What is this freedom? It is the freedom to face the Lord. Easter is a time, when we through the liturgy, are called to gaze upon our risen Lord. Like the plant given to me, we now have the ability through Christ to face his light. A light that shines forth from his glory. A glory that conveys his victory over death. A victory achieved through Christ’s love for the Father and us.
We are a people meant to see the Glory of God. Seeing God’s glory is a gift. A gift that we begin to experience in our present journey here on earth. Of course, the fifty days of Easter does not seem long enough to celebrate this gift. It is truly a magnanimous reality. A reality that this little plant above has helped to unfold in my own heart. Another example from this plant is how it moves towards the sun. The leaves and stems of this plant do not make big movements towards the sun but makes little strides over time to its goal. What does this mean for us? As we seek to gaze upon the Glory of the Lord we must be willing to make the little steps that are necessary to bring our face to the point that it can gaze upon Christ’s Holy Face.
How is this to be done? As the roots of the plant give it the strengthen and stability by which its leaves and stems can move, so our heart must be for us. A heart rooted in Christ, fortified by the Holy Spirit, is the first step that brings about the conversion of life. A conversion that will always bring us face to face with our Lord. However, remember the unfolding of the Christian life is a slow and arduous process requiring our hearts to sacrifice the limited time it has in faith. I write ‘limited time’ because our journey is not an infinite one here on earth. None of us know the day nor the hour that we will pass on into the hereafter. Thus, the sacrifice of our limited time on earth opens our hearts to the love of Christ. A love that will transform our hearts into a heart of flesh (Ez. 36: 26). This journey of love is one marked by patience. A patience, again that is not infinite but given for a purpose as we are told in second letter of Peter “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Pt. 3:9).
Repentance and conversion are words at time we relegate for lent but these movements of the heart are not a gate that opens a way for us. Love is the gate by which one enters the way of Christ. However, these two dispositions of the heart are the compass and map that guides us along the way of Christ. They keep us focused on HIS way and not OUR way. Even though the way of Christ is hard, and the gate is narrow (Mt.7:14) like the plant that is strengthened from the ground up, we to are strengthen by the pathway that Christ has made for us. For each step taken along the way of Christ is an act of faith that is encouraged by the Spirit. Hence, each step of faith allows the heart to be evermore consumed by the love of Christ. Again, with each step taken we offer encouragement to it pilgrim who is along the way with us. For each pilgrim who journeys along the way of our risen Lord is brought closer to the horizon of heaven. The horizon by which we will become engulfed by the light of Christ, as his Glory becomes the new dawn permeating the horizon and ushering in the second coming of Christ.
Preserve a habitual remembrance of eternal life, recalling that those who hold themselves the lowest and poorest and least of all will enjoy the highest dominion and glory in God. ~ St. John of the Cross (Sayings of Light and Love, #83)