On this week's Lenten Journey I welcome Margaret Realy. Please read and ponder Margaret’s journey and feel free to share your Lenten journey in the comment section below. Please check Margaret’s blog for more of her wonderful writing. - Christina Weigand

The Lord will guide you always               

And give you plenty even on dry land.

He will renew your strength,

And you shall be like a watered garden,

Like a spring whose water never fails.

Isaiah 58:11

I often come to Lent with a particular focus and purposefulness that may be lax during the rest of the year. A desire grows in me during the week preceding Ash Wednesday to be of greater service, to aid others financially and to pray more personally with Our Lord. I gather my reading materials, prepare my home altar and consider to which charitable organization in the area I will offer my time.

This year Lent came to me hard and dark. My friendship with my housemate was strained to the point of near collapse due to my extended unemployment and I was forced into a situation of downsizing a household of over twenty years into three rooms. I would have to navigate through this desert carefully.

I cleaned out attics of memories, emptied closets and drawers of favored items. Boxes of books were picked up by a local bookseller in hopes of some monetary gain. My little station-wagon was filled repeatedly and to capacity with goods for St. Vincent’s Society, and black garbage bags lined the driveway full of items with no further use.

I prayed through the hardness and darkness with an intensity I had rarely experienced. All the challenges of our Christian call to forgiveness, mercy and charity lay at my feet; I knew what I had to choose.

This experience invoked a profound sense of humility that was accompanied by deep gratitude. In an odd way I felt humbled that God would walk so closely with me. As I struggled to change my perception of isolation I came to recognize it as a grace-filled solitude, a solitude that allowed embracing the gifts that aloneness with Him would bring. I was especially humbled by and grateful for a friend who was willing to support me financially.

The journey through parched land continues. Dramatic changes and unfamiliar scenery are often jolting. But we can be confident that Our Lord will guide, strengthen and renew us through every challenge we experience.

Margaret Rose Realy grew up near 8 Mile & Woodward just outside Detroit, and for several years lived with her maternal grandmother where the love of gardening flourished. This love of plants led her to writing and speaking about the solace found in a garden. Sharing her experience as a gardener she writes a bi-weekly newspaper column. She is currently working on a second manuscript about creating Christian gardens. Margaret dedicates her volunteer time to developing and maintaining gardens of prayer and memorial at St. Francis Retreat & Conference Center, DeWitt, Michigan. She has an older dog, a mini-pin named Lily, a long haired silver cat named Meadow, and recent addition, a miniature tabby called Georgia; all are rescues.

Please check Margaret’s blog for more of a stroll through the garden.