4. Sin and Vice destroy the fertility of our soul.
I guess I could have kept all those rocks in the garden, but I guarantee you that the seeds I planted wouldn’t take root as deeply as the ones planted in rock-free soil. Thankfully, God doesn’t pour out His grace only on perfect souls, but faith and virtue become more firmly entrenched in us in direct proportion to our attachment to sin. And when a storm comes, the deeper the roots, the better the chances of survival.
5. You’re going to have to keep working on the same areas.
I’m convinced that during the winter, all of New England breeds rocks. That’s why you see all those stone walls everywhere. You work all year to remove the rocks, think you’ve gotten them all, only to discover next spring that your garden produced a bumper crop of winter boulders. So you either give up and let the whole garden revert to brush, or you pick up the shovel and get to digging.
We’ll have to do the same thing with our souls. And not just during Lent. We’ll have to keep going over the same areas we thought we’d untangled from sin, and keep clearing the ground. We can give up and let your whole soul revert to its fallen nature, or you can pick up the shovel and keep on digging. So just because one Lent I managed to avoid gossiping for the entire season, does not mean I’ve overcome that vice, as 70% of my conversations with friends will prove.
6. Sometimes you have to back up before you can move forward.
As I tried to get Boulderzilla out of the ground, I had to keep backing up, trying to dig in the new spot, and failing. I’d back up again, dig in again, and still fail. Finally, a full foot off the original area, I was able to dig in deep enough to find the edge of my nemesis. When it’s sin we’re dealing with, sometimes we have to back waaaaaay up, to see where the real beginnings of the sin are. We think we’re dealing with being short tempered with our children, but when we back up, we realize that we’re really dealing with the much bigger sin of Pride.
These were the thoughts in my head as my seven month pregnant self stubbornly wrestled with that last rock. It finally lifted from the ground, and I was ridiculously gratified to see that it really was a monster. And as I made my daughter pose by it so I could document my vanquished enemy, I thought of all the good things the garden would produce for us this year. We toil not to punish ourselves, but because we know what great things are in store for us and we want to properly prepare for them.
Lent exists only because Easter does.