As I write, we are approaching the feast of the Annunciation, one of my favorite feasts. But by the time this blog is posted, this feast will be in the rear-view mirror. However, I would like to share the special and deep resonance this feast has for me.
We are nearly halfway through Lent. When it began, we were still in the cold and dark of winter. Coming as it does at the beginning of spring, the feast of the Annunciation has all the hopefulness of new and abundant life to come – the coming of Christ as a baby within his pregnant mother and the renewal of nature in springtime blooms and budding trees. The birds are singing and building nests. Our spirits can’t help but be uplifted.
One event on our grounds is tied to this feast in a special way for me – the blooming of the cherry trees. In 1985 when I entered, there were three magnificent trees clustered together in our front yard. My bedroom was on the front side of Ottilia Hall and had a spectacular view. I reveled in the glory of my budding vocation and both the liturgy and nature seemed to be mirroring my feelings. The readings of the liturgy proclaim that God is with us! It is a feast that celebrates life – the life of Christ with us and in us.
In 1985, I was 32 years old and still able to climb into those trees to be surrounded by the sight and smell. This was only advisable on a cloudy, cool day; otherwise, the bees would be humming in the trees as well and not likely to take kindly to the presence of an interloper. Every year since, except for one, those trees have bloomed on the feast of the Annunciation.
I don’t know how long these trees were in our grounds before I entered, but they had definitely reached maturity. Now after 37 years, they are well past their prime, and I am, too. The trees and I are aging together. Still they continue to put forth a profusion of pink-tinged white blossoms every year. Perhaps, even in my later years, I may also continue to bloom with Christ’s life.
By Sister Karen Ann Lortscher, OSB