Pathways through Lent

God’s Grace and Love

homeless man

Matthew 6: 26-27   “Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?”

The bitter cold weather in Washington this winter brings home for me the fragility of life. Every homeless soul I see and each bird perched on the feeders outside, never ceases to remind me how fleeting our space and time is on earth. And that’s not even mentioning how much we’ve got to do in that short span—to gain maturity and to understand how interconnected every creature in the universe is to each other and the world around us. I’m past middle age, and I feel that I’ve just started to get a handle on life! My husband, Mike, and I talked about the many birds and other wild creatures we are going to lose this winter. We will not see them fallen to the ground, but they will disappear as if they had never existed. I don’t know how long it will take for television news and the newspapers to report the death of one homeless person, or several, succumbing to the frigid cold. Those beings, too, will disappear without a trace.

For many years I gave up chocolate for Lent, in a perfunctory fashion. One entry in Pathways, several years ago, suggested taking on something instead during Lent—specifically, listing five things a day for which one was grateful. That’s a wonderful exercise to slow down and assess and be more conscious every day of God’s grace and love. I have made a habit of doing this. And I feed the birds, and maybe that will help some survive this winter. Now I aim to focus on the homeless and take notice of individual souls who are on the street. My first such encounter was the first Sunday in Lent on my way to church. A youngish man whose sign announced he was homeless was sitting at the end of the Whitehurst Freeway. I handed him a dollar, plus a brochure for an organization that finds jobs for the hard-core unemployed. Our eyes met. He thanked me profusely and said “God bless you!”

-Jennifer Urquhart


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