Blessings During Lent

During the season of Lent, many Christians are reminded to examine their lives, repent, and prepare for a new life in Jesus Christ.  Many also “give up” something during the 40 days to remember the way Jesus was tempted but refrained from sin. I decided this Lent to list a “blessing” each of the 40 days to remind myself of ways I am encouraged in my Christian life.

So, for the last week, I have a wonderful list of “blessings”—intergenerational Ash Wednesday service, my sister’s successful surgery, the salt-water at Kidron-Bethel swimming pool, etc. Today’s blessing is the lowly potato peeler! Goodness! How in the world did that happen?

I think the lectionary passages for the first three weeks all have a “hunger and thirst” phrase in them. I read of millions in the world who are hungry and starving. Television has recorded Yemenese, Sudanese, and Ethiopian people who are victims of war. And our Lenten prayers often recite the yearning for God’s help, God’s comfort, and God’s presence. I also believe that Lenten practices heighten our spiritual hunger.

Last night, in a dream, I was in a crowded tent in an outdoor, hot field—maybe in India? the southern border in Mexico? I was the cook for the hundreds of people waiting in line and I was madly peeling potatoes. As I gazed at the huge crowd, I could see patient, hopeful people ready for potato soup. My potato peeler was like magic—peeling each potato with speed and then plopping them into pots of boiling water. The dream faded but I remember holding that peeler and thinking that I was glad to be helping.

Psalm 27: 5:  For God will hide me in the shelter in the day of trouble; God will conceal me under the cover of the tent….

Isaiah 55:1:  Everyone who thirsts, come to the water; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat!

Psalm 63:1:  O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you….”

Prairie View is like a potato peeler—an instrument that provides “food” and “drink” to the “thirsty”. People are pleading for help, for advice, for treatment, for healthy living. Therapists and medical professionals are there to offer resources and guidance—food, drink for clients’ lives. Sometimes we may think that an appointment at Prairie View is not enough to quell the anxiety attacks and the ongoing trauma in our lives. But, usually, the offer of hope, the suggestion of change, the proper medication, the intervention with another coping mechanism is, in fact, just the right thing. Our hunger and thirst are quenched.

In this season of Lent, may our prayers, our dreams, our yearnings be offered to a God who listens, loves, comforts, and sustains us.

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