It is a curious paradox that the tougher life gets, the more we need to put our trust firmly in the Lord and the more difficult it often is. For those who, like myself, find it hard to feel out of control, the more stressed we are and the more things come unstuck, the more we tend to try to manage everything ourselves. Cut off from a deep life of prayer we cannot see beyond where we are stuck. We cannot access a bigger perspective. We live on high alert, unable to wind down, irritable. Our roots are not nourished in deep places and so the sap does not rise to the surface and the fruit does not come easily. And if this becomes the pattern of our lives for too long, the danger is, like that described in the Psalm, we may “settle in the parched places of the wilderness, a salt land uninhabited”.
How do we become merciful to ourselves in the midst of life’s storms and not get sucked into a spiral of negativity in which we cannot see the good? We need to do those things that nourish the roots. The roots need the life-giving water that comes from the source, which is Christ. How we allow our roots to be thrust into the stream will be slightly different for each of us. We need to think about what brings us a sense of joy and connectedness with God. For me, essentials are, quality time to pray, and conversation with friends. For a close friend of mine, it is being with God in nature, working in the garden, or hiking in the open air. For you it may be something different.
While Lent is a time to become more selfless and giving, that giving can only flow easily when we feel ourselves grounded in a deep awareness of God’s love for us. When we are deeply planted and rooted in Christ who is the source, we are less likely to be pulled off balance and more likely to have the resources we need to help others.