Halfway through Lent

I drove out of town only 10 miles west this afternoon just to see a new view.  There, among the miles of brown stubble, dry grassland, are acres of green wheat sticking out of the dark earth. It was all I needed to remind me of an old tune “Love is come again.” Written by J.M.C. Crum who lived 1872-1958, the lovely lilting French melody reminds the singer that, “Now the green blade riseth from the buried grain, Wheat that in the dark earth many days has lain.  Love lives again, that with the dead has been; Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green.”

We are in the season of Lent, the preparation time before Easter. These eight weeks are filled with reminders from scripture about the basics of faith: focus on treasures—not riches; repent of sins—turn to love; letting go of distractions—taking on hope; treat others with dignity–serve with joy. But we are only halfway through the season as we begin March.

Maybe being halfway is not all bad. We sometimes make resolutions (remember those days in early January) and today wonder if we have made any progress on good intentions. Even being halfway successful is better than nothing!

Maybe being halfway of letting go of bad patterns, of destructive thoughts, of “stinkin’ thinkin,” well, that’s maybe not so bad. In any baseball game, batting .500 is extremely good! Letting go is a must if a change in direction is going to happen. In fact, even a slight change of direction means a new destination!

Maybe being halfway to a new goal makes things a little clearer. Like the green wheat, we can imagine that spring is coming, that wheat will grow taller, that there will be a crop in a matter of months. We begin planning for spring duties, watering patterns, and even making plans for a harvest. Halfway is energizing.

Maybe someone in treatment is meeting half of their goals! Hooray! Maybe your documentation patterns have stepped up! Good news! Maybe legislation is finally drafted for a committee. Great! Maybe the budget is being met by 50%! All right! Maybe the projects of remodeling are half done. Okay!  Maybe, just maybe, we are more realistic of our own capacities to accomplish the “to do” lists that cover our desks. Awesome!

Yet, the story of Christian hope is not about halfway. The good news of Lent is the necessary steps of letting go to embrace the new. Most of us need time to make changes. We cannot “turn on a dime.” Yet, just as sure as the brown earth is holding the germinating wheat, just as assuredly God’s love is holding on to us. The complicated mess of daily life is also about the surprising result of goals accomplished, new health, and new life. The green wheat of Kansas will be the golden wheat for the world—and then be the Living Bread of Christian community.

March is about halfway markers. The journey to Easter is on its path. “Love is come again like the wheat that springeth green.”

Dorothy Nickel Friesen is a Mennonite retired pastor and denominational minister.  She served on the Prairie View Board and lives in Newton.