HomedotMagisReflectionsLook for Signs of Color in Lent

Look for Signs of Color in Lent

squill - blue flowering plant - photo by alksndra on Unsplash

When I am a good month into Lent, the newness of what I planned to do as a Lenten observance has worn off. Perhaps a month into Lent I have fallen off from doing some of the extra prayer or giving of myself that I had intended to do on Ash Wednesday. Or maybe whatever I chose to do differently is now a habit. I may be doing well or poorly at whatever I had hoped to give or to give up, but either way, by now there is a degree of the sameness of the long season of Lent that seems reflected back to me in the gray of the New England sky and the natural world’s “not yet being there.”

And then there’s squill. A decade ago, I didn’t even know what squill was, but then one winter one of my children asked me the name of that tiny flowering plant blossoming atop a hill at the arboretum. The leaves form a little rosette, one that droops over from the little stems growing near to the ground, and their bright blue, almost purple, color looks regal. Now, every year when I get a little tired of the leafless trees and the sameness of our winter walks on the same old paths, I look for the squill to come up again. It never fails to delight me to see the patches of exuberant little flowers growing in the midst of still-wintry ground. Crocus and forsythia are others that are among the first to emerge from the ground; they are humble, small flowers but seemingly determined to assert their hopefulness despite their tiny size.

In our spiritual lives, it helps to look for those small moments of color in Lent too. We can easily underestimate the good that Lent is bringing us if we expect that the practice will bear fruit all at once, or that by now, something big ought to have happened. Maybe for some people it has, but when Lent simply seems long, it helps to look for the small signs of what is going well. Where are the signs of God’s work emerging, even if the signs are very small ones? Where have I known consolation in those times of extra prayer, fasting, or giving of myself to others? A small moment where love, peace, or patience “flowers” may be a sign of greater things to come.

Something that I have learned over the years is how often God is at work in us when we are not aware of how it is happening. For example, if I give up complaining for Lent, I may feel subjectively as though nothing is really happening, and then I suddenly find that I really am complaining less than I used to and have more gratitude for God’s gifts in my life. I may feel that my service work is not doing all that much, and to my surprise I hear feedback that something I found insignificant was an important moment to someone else.

God is full of surprises, but we can take the time at this point in Lent to stop, look back, and look for the small signs of God’s loving action in our lives.

Photo by alksndra on Unsplash.

Marina Berzins McCoy
Marina Berzins McCoy
Marina Berzins McCoy is a professor at Boston College, where she teaches philosophy and in the BC PULSE service-learning program. She is the author of The Ignatian Guide to Forgiveness and Wounded Heroes: Vulnerability as a Virtue in Ancient Greek Philosophy. She and her husband are the parents to two young adults and live in the Boston area.


  1. I’m a native New Yorker but I live in North Carolina. so spring is definitely here and the flowers are providing color everywhere. I’m aware of how grateful I am to live in a place where I feel God’s presence in every flower
    Thanks for the article

  2. I am feeling the same as you….being in our tumultuous world now is a penance in itself…my Lent seems to be dragging on….Jesus I place myself at the foot of your Cross Here am I to do Your Will, mine, Irene

  3. Thank you for so eloquently putting these thoughts and feelings into words. I am struggling with what seems like an endless winter. Lent drags on as my initial enthusiasm dwindles. It is easy to get wrapped up in myself and ignore to small signs and recognizing the daily surprises God gives me.


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