I will be 40 years old tomorrow and even though there is literally no time for me to be reading self-help books, to prepare for my mid-life crisis I researched Arthur C. Brooks’ new bestseller, From Strength to Strength: Finding Success, Happiness, and Deep Purpose in the Second Half of Life. Brooks is a Harvard Professor, PhD social scientist, musician, best-selling author, and columnist at The Atlantic. His compelling research reveals and affirms much of the same wisdom disclosed in today’s Gospel and in our Christian tradition of observing a holy Lent.
What does it mean to fight for freedom? What does it mean to struggle against oppression? For Black people, descendants of Africans who were enslaved, that struggle for freedom has often coincided with our faith in something bigger than ourselves, our faith in the Divine creator of the universe. Against all odds, we have relied on the power of the Divine to help pull us through no matter how bleak the situation we were in may have been.
I’ve been thinking about my garden a lot lately, sitting out on the edge of my front yard and on the boulevard near the curb, the ground still and frozen, resting under a blanket of snow. Lent, as Barbara reminded us last Sunday, shares its meaning with the natural season of Spring, drawing as it does from the same root for “length” – as the daylight lengthens and the earth slowly tilts on its axis in the northern hemisphere toward the warmth of a distant sun.