img_0949On our hike this past week, my friend and I once again visited Boston Hill. We even took a route we had traversed before—but saw new things this time. One thing that caught my eye was a tiny spot of green in the midst of the rock pictured on the left here. Can you see it?

On the right is a second picture, up close.Hidden within a natural hole in the rock, a pair of tiny green mosses have found a place to thrive in the midst of this desert landscape. I probably would have missed them completely if my eyes had not already been captured by a pair of dynamite or core-sample holes drilled in an adjacent rock.

As it was, I initially wasn’t certain whether I was seeing the green of a growing plant or of a green gemstone, hidden deep within the rock. While the moss is certainly less “valuable” in worldly terms, it’s still a valuable find for me, personally. It led to some ponderings, later that day, on Lent and the nature of the spiritual journey.


Jesus spent forty days in the wilderness after being baptized, and this is the reason there are forty days in Lent. The intention is that this time will be the equivalent of a yearly wilderness sojourn for each of us: a time to reflect upon, and deepen, our relationship with God. Disciplines such as fasting and praying, giving something up or taking something on, are meant to help us focus our awareness in this “wilderness” of our own choosing.

The hope is that each of us will find hidden gems on our Lenten wilderness sojourns. This hidden patch of moss is my gem this week. I’m reminded of the word viriditas, which the medieval abbess and mystic Hildegard of Bingen used to mean vitality, fecundity, lushness, and growth, which were for her the symbols of spiritual and physical health. To have found such a symbol, hidden within the wilderness in my own hometown, is a powerful indicator for me of the importance of the Lenten journey.

Have you found any hidden gems in your own Lenten wilderness? Where is viriditas appearing in your life at this time?

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