Walking in the cold Saturday morning air on my way to Mass, I felt sadness.

Hearts shatter, minds weaken, and dreams falter. Love is the answer, yet I know the weakness of human love and the battle to hope.

“Who will heal me?”

I heard the birds singing and took my headphones out of my ears. This is nature’s music, I thought to myself, and better than anything I have on my playlist.

I walked by purple and yellow crocuses growing by a cafe and snapped a photo. My heart is yearning and aching for spring – a springtime in my environment but also in my interior life.

That is why I treasure the season of Lent leading up to Easter. A time for spiritual growth, self-sacrifice, and communion with Jesus.

It is a daily struggle to not fill the space in my heart meant only for God with other things. Retail therapy and indulging in delicious food are among the very enticing distractions.

I have been reading a lot of books lately to lift my spirits, the Bible being one of them. I want to know the Lord more, so that I may know his love for me. The book of Sirach is a new discovery for me, full of rich wisdom. The Mass readings from Sirach are a balm to my heart. “Cling to God and do not depart. Trust in God and he will help you. You who fear the Lord, hope for good things, for lasting joy and mercy.”

And then come the questions that stir my soul. “Or has anyone persevered in the fear of the Lord and been forsaken? Or has anyone trusted the Lord and been disappointed?”

Each Lent I meditate on the Way of the Cross. Jesus felt real pain and knows what it’s like to lament. Illness, rejection, and despair can be united to him. He knows our pain. His death is not the end. Our hope is in the resurrection. His love is redeeming.

I arrived a few minutes before Mass and settled into a pew, gazing at the tabernacle and the crucifix. Wanting hope, healing, forgiveness, and mercy. It comes with the cross, Good Friday, the cold, empty tomb and the unfailing warmth of the Resurrection.

After Mass, I had a comforting latte with a friend as we tucked into a sunny corner of a cozy Main Street cafe. Inspired by our conversation I played her newest ukulele as she drove me home. When I got home, I listened to one of my favourite songs – Stand by Me, which I often play on my own ukulele.

The lyrics are few, but the message is clear. No matter what happens, “If the mountains should crumble to the sea, I won’t cry ... no I won’t shed a tear. Just as long as you stand by me.”

We all want love. We are love. Lent is a reminder that Jesus is the greatest lover and friend. Jesus also wants us to stand by him. He wanted the presence of his disciples as he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. Dying and rising, he gave us everything, to the last drop.

So this Lent I will stand by the Lord, relying on his strength when I am sad. I will take delight in his passion for me. I will sing and play Stand by Me on my little ukulele.

I am not the only one who aches for ultimate happiness. Jesus heals. And, as Sirach tells us, “faithful friends are life-saving medicine and those who fear the Lord will find them.”