By: Rev Trac Nguyen
There is an inspiring story that has been circulated widely on the internet for years.
The story goes like this: the Eagle is a well-known bird with a strong character and is known to soar higher than any bird in the sky. An eagle can live up to 70 years. However, to able to reach this age, the eagle must make some hard decisions. During its 40th year, like human fingernails, an eagle’s long and flexible claws will no longer have the ability to grasp food. The eagle’s long and sharp beak begins to bend and it’s feathers get longer and older making them stick to eagle's chest making it difficult to fly. The eagle is left with two tough decisions: to DIE or go through a painful process of CHANGE. The process requires that the eagle fly to a mountain top and nest on its peak. There, the eagle knocks its beak against a rock until it breaks. The eagle will then wait for a new beak to grow back. When the new beak fully forms the eagle uses it to rip out it's frail claws. When it's new claws grow back, the eagle starts plucking it's old-aged feathers. After a few months of this painful process the eagle takes its famous flight of rebirth and lives for another 30 years!
Brothers and sisters, it does not matter whether the story is true or biologically accurate. The important thing is that the message is relevant for our celebration today. It is a story of transformation and determination to keep on living. This story speaks about the eagle's extraordinary power to captivate and inspire human beings. It is a story which offers us a way to reflect on our own life journey, especially the spiritual journey.
When eagle reaches the period of changing itself for the better and to survive, so are we today. The liturgical vestments change from the green of ordinary time to violet. Additionally, our foreheads will be marked with ashes. This colour change of vestments and ashes on our foreheads remind us of the significant time in which we are approaching -the season of Lent. Ash Wednesday begins the special time for us. With the help of the readings we are encouraged to make a decision; to die with our own self-interest, pride, and unpleasant memories OR go through the painful process of change, renewal and transformation.
Let this Ash Wednesday invite you to live in the spirit of ‘transformation’ through prayer, almsgiving and fasting so as to make you worthy to participate and re-join with our Saviour in his suffering, death and resurrection. We look forward to resurrection of our Lord at the end of the Lenten season, awaiting the rebirth of our lives and to take flight as renewed disciples.
May the Holy Father’s words in his Lenten letter gently encourage you with the choices you make in transforming your lives.
Photo of Ezekiel Hangan