My Lent is often bleak: dust and ashes, repentance and fasting. In Chicago, Lent and the endless winter coincide—cold winds offer lashings and another snowstorm adds a few more inches of white. We suffer through gray, slushy days.

Right in the middle of Lenten repentance, Hosea offers a feast for our senses, along with words of promise and hope. Imagine dew sparkling in the morning; a lily bursting open; the deep delving roots, new shoots and fragrance of the Lebanon cedar; and the verdant cypress tree. The Lord says that Israel shall dwell in the shade, raise grain and blossom.  “Because of me you bear fruit!”

Hosea’s words resonate with me, reminding me of springtime and resurrection, compassion and healing.  Today, we may find hints of spring, like snowdrops or crocus shoots. May we pray, too, for the wisdom and prudence to walk the straight paths of the Lord!

—Maureen M. Martin is a writer, spiritual director and hospice chaplain, living in Evanston, IL.