"Fast from Negativism: Be Positive and Grateful" by Margaret Rose Realy, Obl. OSB (CatholicMom.com) Image Grouse by Skeeze at pixabay.com, CCO Public Domain.

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I'm just as guilty as the next person of grousing, and want to adjust my attitude. There is a Lenten list called Fasting From that’s been published several times, including here on CatholicMom.com, that offers a way to do just that. The list originated in the book Cultivating God’s Garden through Lent. Here is one of my favorite excerpts from that book and seems particularly appropriate these days.

Fast from negativism; be positive

Fast from complaining; be grateful

The piece of ground on which I planned to work was choked with weeds, riddled with tangled bramble roots, and armored by canes of wild roses. Small boulders and saplings warned me of the challenges ahead. This unused piece of land, a wilderness consuming two-thirds of my city lot outside Detroit, was set in my mind to flourish and be fruitful.

I began to dig. I dug with determination and a sense of hope and joy in my heart. I buried all the comments about the impossibility of my endeavor. A song in my spirit shored me up for the work that lay ahead.

For there, just below the surface, beyond the boulders, brambles, roses, and roots lay a soil teeming with life and possibilities. I needed only to find my way in.

I found my systematic approach to clearing the land gradually bending. The reclamation plan of “doing A then B” soon gave way to the functionality of focusing on working one small area at a time and slowly moving into the next tangled mess.

Arduously I labored. Every shovel thrust seemed to meet with resistance from embedded rocks hidden beneath the soil. Every sapling seemed to have a root system that belied its small stature. As I unearthed obstructions I was surprised by the amount of glass and rubbish that was also buried there. What I had thought to be uncontaminated land turned out to be somebody’s dumping ground; the weeds merely hid their sins.

It wasn’t long before I had mounds of limbs and roots to burn. The stones had been carted off with larger rocks rolled to the side. The granite boulders were part of this land and would remain. Now exposed, they offered a foundational beauty. The weeds that had been piled in an out-of-the-way location were beginning to break down and would in time compost enough to be nourishment for the soil from which they were removed. The old bicycle tires, plastics, and glass rubbish had been bagged and discarded.

Eventually the little piece of land, my backyard, was cleared and the smooth dark soil lay soft and clean. It had been resurrected and was ready for new life. It would now serve a purpose of fruitfulness and beauty. I would lovingly attend to the dwarf fruit trees soon to be planted and the flowers and herbs that would accompany them through the seasons. I was grateful for the gift of perseverance.


“…perform good works all the days of your life, and do not tread the path of wrongdoing. For if you are steadfast in your service, your good works will bring success….” (Tobit 4:5-6)

As we near Lent, consider adopting new attitudes in addition to fasting, almsgiving, and increased prayers. We can rest with confidence that Our Lord will be pleased with the effort.

Copyright 2013, 2017 Margaret Rose Realy, Obl. OSB
Reprinted from Cultivating God's Garden through Lent. All rights reserved.

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