A reflection from The Rev. Lynn White, Priest Associate

Highways and Deserts

“A voice cries out: ‘In the wilderness, prepare ye the way of the Lord, make

straight in the desert a highway for our God’.” (Isa. 40:3)

Speaking of deserts, I wonder if you saw the article in the February 15th edition of The Chicago Tribune, or heard some of the recent newscasts about the Garfield Park Conservatory’s agave plant? In case you did not, the stories focused on this sandy desert plant which is sometimes referred to as the American century plant, as it is so long-lived. The plant takes its time growing, both upward and outward, but mostly sitting and waiting for the fullness of time, waiting to produce its grand finale, a towering stalk that will flower and turn to seed. Towering is perhaps an understatement as the stalk can grow to up to 30 feet tall, seemingly reaching for the heavens. They’re even discussing enlarging the conservatory roof as the plant seems to be outgrowing its height. Finally, having done what it was created to do, the plant will start to die.

Water, warmth, and light are basic to the agave plant’s health. They thirst for all three. Without them, the plant will die. In Genesis 1:1-2 both water and light are the first parts of creation, necessary to not only the agave plant, but life itself. Plants are created to turn toward the light. Without enough light, water, and the right temperature, growth is not only stunted, but may cause death.

Christians are somewhat like the agave plant. We, too, need light. Of course, we need sunlight to accomplish our tasks, see what’s ahead of us, and make us happy. But more than that, we need the Light of Christ to understand who we are and what and who we are created to be. Like the agave plant, if we turn toward that Light, we become more whole, healthy, and can flower.

We also need water. As a matter of fact, human bodies range from 50-75% water. We begin in birth waters. It is through water we are refreshed, renewed, and reborn. Water is a constant theme throughout Scripture; The Flood, The Red Sea, The River Jordan, The Sea of Galilee, and the water which was changed into wine are only a few examples of water which help us understand who we are, give us life, and help us turn and go in the direction we are called.

We also need warmth. If it’s too cold, we can freeze. If it’s too hot, we can burn up. Like Goldilocks, we need just the right temperature. However, more than the right temperature, we need the warmth of love, especially the everlasting deep love of God.

Do you hear the voice? Lent is a time set aside for us to listen more intentionally to God’s call, to attempt to turn toward the Light of Christ, a time for us to thirst for a greater presence of Christ in our lives, a time to hunger for the deep relationship with Christ’s love, time for us each to build our own highway to Christ. If we attempt to do these things, if we are rooted in Christ, we shall not only flower, but sow the seeds of Christ wherever we are planted and build our highway straight to our God.

To God be the glory! Amen.