In Christian tradition, today starts 40 days that — from my Catholic childhood — was marked by fish every Friday, no sweets, and whatever other kind of “sacrifice” Mom could create. Ashes on the forehead were followed by penance, way-too-long sermons, and a belief that I was destined to some brimstone-laden place if I didn’t measure up. What strikes me now is the statement that Christ went into the wilderness, a wilderness in which He was tested. I think all of us, at various times, encounter this wilderness. It might be in a hospital room, standing in the unemployment line, holding divorce papers, or even listen to the empty place in your head and heart where you are confused, frightened, and alone. Wilderness — the drought of a desert — is actually a powerful place in which we can confront all our demons, our doubts, and in the end, walk out with clarity and conviction of what really matters in our life. Not a fun place to be. But perhaps for personal growth, a necessary place to be. Listen to the beat of your heart. Slow down. Breathe. Be patient (for me this is the hardest thing to do). Stop beating yourself up (another hard thing for me to do). From breakdown will come buildup. The origin of the word “Lent” started in the 13th Century and was a Middle English word for springtime. If you find yourself in the wilderness, wait. Something green and growing will spring up. Even if it takes 40 days.