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Feb 15, 2013

Lent came early for CTU this year, just three days into our Spring Semester.  With all the sudden frenetic activity—welcoming new students, greeting colleagues and classmates we haven’t seen in weeks, reveling in new class material yet unburdened by assignment deadlines—it seemed incredibly unfair to contemplate entering this stereotypically somber season.  Or so I thought. 

When I woke up this Ash Wednesday, I honestly wasn’t planning to rebel, but I couldn’t help being…well…happy.  I moved through the day feeling energized, and while some attributed this to the ounces of coffee I consumed (not a wise way to fast, my friends!), I sensed something more at work.

“I just can’t get excited about Lent! I don’t want to be all gloomy in my sackcloth and ashes,” a typically vibrant student lamented to me.

“But you don’t have to be,” I gushed, with other-worldly/caffeinated energy.   “Lent is so exciting!  It’s a time of possibilities, for us to grow more fully into the people God invites us to be, which is our most authentic selves!”

Growth.  It’s a loaded word. It can indiscriminately become a euphemism for any painful and necessary process we would rather avoid, and I wished it hadn’t escaped my lips in that moment….until our Ash Wednesday Liturgy, when Prof. vanThanh Nguyen reminded us in his homily that Lent comes to us from the Old English word for spring.

Gloom or not, these weeks leading up to Easter are filled with slow awakenings and tentative shoots, as we cross over the threshold of an earthly season and prepare our hearts for a new season within.  On Wednesday morning, I noticed that my peace lily plant, which often chooses to remain flowerless for years at time, is preparing a bloom.  In the next weeks this white oval will emerge from its stalk, turn toward the sun, and slowly unfurl itself to its understated brilliance.

And there, a work of creation can catechize us further.

Whether we call it growth, conversion, or transformation, the work of Lent begins with the willingness to let God in – to be “petal-open,” as the author Zora Neale Hurston called it.  Admittedly, there have been times that this realization has made me wince.  This week it makes me smile.  Broadly.

Will we become “petal-open” this Lent?

Angela Paviglianiti | Director of Admissions | angelap@ctu.edu