But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
When I go to the bank around the corner, the service is consistently terrible. It doesn’t matter if I park my car and go into the lobby, drive my car to the drive-up window, or use the ATM. “Slow” is the name of the game at this establishment. It is never a surprise to me.
The other day, however, I decided to “swing by” that very same bank to quickly deposit a check. Learning the ATM was out of order, I pulled in line behind the other drivers waiting for their turn at the drive-up window. After waiting fifteen minutes, with one minute left before I’d be late for an appointment across the street, my eye caught sight of my car’s fuel gauge.
On a good day, one bar would take me twenty miles down the road, but I had no idea how long I could sit in line at the bank on one bar of gas. By now, the lines beside me and the line behind me had grown to a point where I had no choice but to wait.
Regardless of the service at this bank, the failure to plan was all mine.
For years I’ve wondered at the meaning of those ten virgins and their oil lamps. But as I turned the key in the ignition to silence the engine, sent a text that I’d be late, and settled in for the wait, it was this parable that came to mind.
Lent is an invitation to a season of preparation. After the stretch of Ordinary Time following Epiphany, I sense a shift with the late winter thaw and the song of the cardinal above my head. All of the signs are there, and when Easter arrives, it won’t be a surprise to me.
But, if left to my own devices, I’ll miss the opportunity for filling, and for marking time, and I will arrive at the resurrection disheveled and breathless, an empty fuel can in my hand.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: What hints does nature give you that Easter is not far away? How do these hints remind you of the resurrection of Christ? What can you do today to prepare for the new life Jesus offers?
PARYER: God, sometimes I miss the hints you give, and I show up with an empty fuel can in my hand. Sometimes that empty can is my one and only offering. Forgive me when I miss the invitation to prepare. Thank you for filling me with your love, covering me with your grace, and guiding me with your hope. Amen.
P.S. from Mark: Throughout the season of Lent, the Daily Reflections will focus on knowing Jesus better. They have been written by a talented collection of writers, my associates at Foundations for Laity Renewal. You'll be able to follow this Lenten series through the Daily Reflections. If you would like to download a PDF of the whole series, you can do so at this link.