May the Lenten season be a turning point

By Father Dennis Meinen
View from the Scooter

On Jan. 31, I was notified that Carol Ann Sundquist had died. I first met her in 1987 when I was assigned at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Sioux City. I taught religion, and Carol taught English to junior high students.

There is a picture of a dragonfly in flight hanging on the wall in my apartment. It was given to me by Carol after a homily I gave in which I told a story about a dragonfly. Her mom had died shortly before I came to that parish, and she said my homily made so much sense to her, helping to ease the pain she felt, so she went to an artist and asked him to paint the picture.

In that homily I told a story about a highly successful businessman who found himself facing some serious problems and decided to go off by himself to think things over. So, he went out in a canoe on a lake in Maine, cast his fishing line out into the water and eased back to think things over.

After a while, the canoe floated into shore to a place where the water was only a few inches deep. Looking down he saw that the bottom was crowded with water beetles. As he watched, one of the water beetles came to the surface and slowly crawled up the side of the canoe. Finally, reaching the top, it clung to the side of the wood and died.

The man soon forgot about the beetle and his thoughts went back to his own problems. Several hours later, he happened to notice the beetle again and saw that, in the hot sun, its shell had become very dry and brittle. As he watched, it slowly split open, and there emerged from it a new form, a dragonfly, which took to the air, its colors flashing in the sunlight. That winged insect flew farther in an instant than the water beetle had crawled in days.

Later, when the man told his friends about the experience, he said, “You know, I thought to myself, wouldn’t God do that for me, too, if he would do that for a water beetle?”

That experience had helped him realize that whatever challenges he faced in life, none were equal to his biggest challenge. He must first be willing to die to himself, and he hadn’t done that yet. He didn’t even know where to begin.

Well, Carol, may you flash in the sunlight, too, as you make your passage to the Kingdom of God where there is no more suffering, tears, pain or sorrow, only a joy no one can ever take away.

For we survivors, is life getting us down? Are we worn out because of health or financial problems? If we’re hurting, depressed and/or discouraged, think about Carol, the businessman and the dragonfly. If God will change a water beetle into a dragonfly, won’t God raise us above the dismal, gloomy winterized life that often afflicts us?

My prayer for all of us is that this coming Lenten season will be a turning point in our lives, and that together we will break out of our hard, dry, brittle shells of pain, depression, and/or sin, and be transformed by our Lord’s unconditional mercy, love and forgiveness that I pray Carol receives.

Father Dennis Meinen serves as chaplain at Holy Spirit Retirement Home, Sioux City, for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts in the diocese, and Faithful Friar of the Garrigan 4th Degree Assembly of the Knights of Columbus, Sioux City.

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