For me, Lent is blackened snow in the streets and muddy boots in the hallway—about as far as you can get from hot and dry.
The analogy of Lent as a desert has never worked for me. I was born and raised in Wisconsin, and except for a year spent in Chicago, I’ve lived here my whole life. The closest I’ve come to a desert is the Desert Dome at Milwaukee’s Mitchell Park Conservatory. February and March in Wisconsin—the Lenten months—are about as far as you can get from hot and dry. Lent to me has always been cold and soggy. When Lent arrives in Wisconsin, winter is only half over.
Images are as powerful as words when sharing the Christian story.
Our family was visiting our pastor’s house when our daughter Teenasia, then 9, commented on a framed print on the wall. It was a black Madonna and child. “That is so cool,” she said. “Baby Jesus is wearing an African shirt. I love that.” A couple weeks later after Mass, Father Mike gave Teenasia a smaller version of the print. It hangs outside our kitchen, near our huge dry-erase family calendar. The print is not only a reminder of our family’s faith in Jesus and our trust in his mother, but also a reminder to Teenasia of Father Mike’s thoughtfulness and generosity.