Every year, for more than 20, I return to a few untraditional books for Lent because of the depth of image and story. One book is The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint Exuperý. For years before I could the name process, I would sit with small bits of pieces of the text, paying attention to the words that stood out, allowing them to sink in, journaling their meaning and waiting for the scriptural links to rise up within me. Years later, I learned I was participating in a process similar to lectio divina, or sacred reading, usually entered into using scripture. In a way, this book has become a spiritual text for me.
Today, as I read I came to a passage where the little prince meets a flower. The passage reads, “The little prince crossed the desert and met with only one flower.
It was a flower with three petals, a flower of no account at all.” They exchange welcomes and the little prince asks, “Where are the men?” … “Men?” she echoes. “I think there are six or seven of them in existence. I saw them, several years ago. But one never knows where to find them. The wind blows them away. They have no roots, and that makes their life difficult.” They say goodbyes.
As I read this, I had to stop. Nearly every words caught my attention. The first word was “desert”. Immediately I thought of Lent as the season of the desert. In fact, Jesus departs to the desert today for forty days in the Gospel. The flower’s experience of men is that they have no roots; at least not in her desert- and in their rootlessness, they are at the mercy of the wind. I wonder what it would be like to root ourselves in the desert for Lent?
Rootedness takes time – and in the desert, a strong will to stand against the winds that offer an easier landscape. Winds that free us from facing what tempts us – from being stripped of idols and addictions.
Jesus becomes rooted in the desert for a time – rooted in humility and truth. In this rootedness, He stands boldly against temptation until scripture tells us, the tempter departs. I return to the question that presented itself to me earlier: What would it be like to be rooted in the desert this Lent? …and I sit and allow it sink in a bit further.