Signs of hope this Lenten season | Persons, places and things


By Barb Arland-Fye

The sun’s brilliant, strengthening rays are rapidly melting the piles of snow that have overstayed their welcome. I revel in the firmament showing the work of God’s hands — in mid-Lent! For me, the signs of hope, the promise of Easter emerge day by day in sometimes the smallest joys or ordinary experiences.

Last week, while walking outdoors, I could not keep my eyes off the Mississippi River, the water sparkled like diamonds and the exposed grass on the shoulder of the road emitted a fragrance of the hint of spring. It is too early for spring, but I savor the hints of what lies ahead.


Recently, a member of my Emmaus discipleship group shared a delightful video of 13 Redemptorist nuns in County Dublin, Ireland, dancing throughout their monastery to “cheer people up” in lock down. The sisters, ranging in age from 28 to 92, mastered a viral dance challenge, performing the Jerusalema dance in a video that now has tens of thousands of views, reporter Maddy Shaw Roberts wrote for


Maddy says the sisters, dressed in red and blue habits, “released the video to help those in need while ‘praying for our world in these challenging times.’” The sisters are not the only dancers in this video. They had been “challenged to do the dance by their fellow Redemptorist fathers and brothers. I assume that is whom we see dancing separately from the sisters but with the same joyous, expertly executed movements. So uplifting! Enjoy watching it (

My Emmaus group, an initiative of the Diocese of Davenport’s Vision 20/20 process, is itself a source of anticipation and of hope for me this Lenten season. The four members of our group meet twice monthly via Zoom video conference to share faith, to study Scripture and grow as companions on this journey of faith and as missionary disciples of Christ. Practicing physical distance during this time of COVID-19 is not a problem. Miles separate us — Francesca To lives in Burlington, Pam Pelzel lives in Grinnell, Kay Temple lives in Muscatine and I live in LeClaire — but we are becoming close, nonetheless. I thank God for blessing me with these sisters in Christ.

“Let Us Dream, the Path to a Better Future,” a new book by Pope Francis that I am reading during Lent, provides another source of hope for me. Pope Francis’ insights inspire me to reflect on life and my interactions with others, with God and with creation. The Holy Father reminds us that “our lives are a gift and we grow by giving of ourselves: not preserving ourselves, but losing ourselves in service (p. 13).” Furthermore, “we need prayer, to hear the prompts of the Spirit and cultivate dialogue in a community that can hold us and allow us to dream” (p. 51). Good reminders anytime of the year, but especially relevant for me during this season of intensified prayer and self-giving.

Family serves as another sign of hope. My husband Steve graciously made space for me by creating a home office during this pandemic, listens patiently to my musings, and provides reassurance during some of the unexpected turns in our journey together. Colin, our older son, bursts into my home office to greet me when he arrives for a visit, never mind if I am in the middle of a video conference. His enthusiasm, his joy for our family, causes any annoyance to vanish. Patrick, our younger son, is settling well into adulthood, growing in confidence, maturity and finding a home in our Catholic Church. How could I not feel a sense of hope this Lenten season?

(Contact Editor Barb Arland-Fye at

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