The Maple Syrup Lesson (Or, I want patience. NOW!)

The Maple Syrup Lesson (Or, I want patience. NOW!)

A Lenten Mini-Retreat with Mary

Maybe I could stay under the covers a few more weeks…I woke up on February 14th to an outside temperature of 24 below zero. Spring felt a long way off.

The elusive time between winter and spring presses our patience. Will the snow ever melt? Will the gardens ever blossom again?

The process of simmering maple syrup paints a picture of springtime patience. Syruping takes effort, trudging from tree to tree, rain or shine, back and forth to the fire. Eventually, 40 gallons of sap boil down to one gallon of pure delicious golden maple syrup. A watchful eye guards the sap, waiting patiently for that sweet spot between syrup consistency and a scorched mess.

This laborious syruping process evokes patience. The tree also reveals resilient patience, itself waking from a sub-zero slumber. With little outward sign, the liquid gold rises in the tree, ready to burst forth another season of life. The tree is silent. Patient.

Faithfulness hinges on our ability to grow quietly in patience. The human heart, fickle as it is, often wages a tug of war between trust in God, the One who loves us most, and doubt. The Easter Vigil remembers the story of God’s patience with His people. God brought the Hebrews out of Egypt with great miracles, and a short time later, they complained there was no water in the desert. How quickly we forget God’s goodness!

Remembering God’s goodness during a global pandemic seems difficult. We have been challenged to be patient, wondering if take-it-for-granted freedom will ever return. I look a little shabby after this past year. Self-reflection during Lent reveals my many excuses to stay inside my bubble – a comfortable place – and to avoid serving. “Selfishness,” it is called. I am learning that it is Christ in me Who causes holiness to sprout and faithfulness to blossom. (Galatians 2:20) Thank goodness, God is not done with me yet.