By Deacon Derick Cranston
One of the greatest teachers in life is pain. Success can make you complacent but pain will teach you lessons you will never forget. This does not mean you should seek pain, because pain will seek you out and find you. To live a good life, though, pain is necessary.
The pain of touching a burning stove will teach you to be cautious when cooking. The pain of a failed relationship will teach you what kind of things you want to avoid in your next relationship. Pain can teach you some unpleasant truths about yourself.
The unpleasant things we have done in our life can produce feelings of regret and guilt. We tend to hide these feelings because it can be painful to go there. It is a land that we do not want to dwell in and it would be unhealthy to take up a permanent residence.
At times, we must go back there to remind ourselves what caused the regret and guilt in the first place. We need to bring into the light the mistakes we have made and the times we have said or done something hurtful so we can continue to grow in love and wisdom.
Learning from the dark side of our nature is what the season of Lent encourages us to do. We bring the sins we have committed into focus not to soak in the mire of our depravity, but to plant and nurture the seeds of love and wisdom. Lent is a time of growth, a springtime of the soul.
The word “lent” comes from the medieval word for “lengthen,” the same word that was also a term used to denote springtime. The days become longer and the sun shines brighter day by day. Hope lengthens as the harsh winter passes; the joy of springtime is upon us.
Lent is a time of transition from darkness into light, despair into hope, and an expectation of better things to come. It is one last look back at the pain and a reminder that, out of great pain, come the seeds of great joy. A lesson that is well worth learning.
(Deacon Cranston is pastoral associate for St. Mary Parish in Riverside, Holy Trinity Parish in Richmond and St. Joseph Parish in Wellman. He can be reached at email@example.com.)