My wife, Joanne, and I are birders, enjoying the challenge of finding, identifying and watching birds in their (and our) various habitats. Many are year-round domestic birds, such as cardinals or titmice, but a number are seasonal, such as the juncos that frequent our yard in the winter and the catbirds in the summer. In the spring, warblers come through Monticello Park in Alexandria, announcing their arrival with flashing colors. Most of them are there for only a few short weeks before they continue on north to nest, but it’s always a thrill to catch them as they pass through. We don’t get to see their migrations, though, as the little birds fly mostly at night, to spend less energy when it’s cooler.
It’s different for the bigger birds, because they tend to migrate during the day, and we get to watch them. In the spring, it is truly awesome to see (and very definitely to hear) tens of thousands of snow geese skeining north in multiple simultaneous formations to feeding and breeding grounds in the tundra. In the fall, it’s a thrill to watch columns of dozens of hawks gathering from distant parts and slowly circling up several thousand feet on a thermal, then peeling off one-by-one to coast down southward to find the next updraft. They always seem to know where they’re headed, and if they survive the inevitable storms and predators, and if they discover hospitable habitat along the way to feed and rest, they’ll likely get there.
We, too, have our respective seasons, and this season of Lent is also a passage, a journey on which we are called to reflect on where we want to go, and how to get there, whether singly or in a group as part of our faith community. Have we made decisions about our journey and destination, spiritual or otherwise? Have we taken stock of our lives to see if we can get there, even if the winds might blow hard against us? What are the sources that can feed and nourish us along our way? Can we help guide and sustain others on their journeys? In short, how are we using this Lenten tide to prepare ourselves and be ready for the next season of our lives, Easter, when it arrives?