A Reflection on LENT (Dated March 15th, 2020)
As I write this, Storm Jorge has arrived, the fire is lit, ‘Agus anois an Aimsear’ plays in the background and I sit. The crackle of the fire is echoed outside by the rain on the pavement and the green tarpaulin that flaps and slaps the table it covers. One could be forgiven for thinking otherwise, but Spring has arrived. Since the solstice, and ever so slowly, the sun rises higher over the horizon and we emerge from the dark days of winter once more. The clay pots outside my door display nature’s capacity to begin again; snow drops hang like pearl earrings, a pale yellow crocus opens itself as if in worship, the first cherry blossoms are born on bare branches and much is yet to come. It is in this changing of the seasons, the movement from darkness into light that I consider my own shadow, the ways in which I miss the mark, the ways in which I don’t reflect the light and love of the Divine. The hatred I sometimes feel towards those who make my life difficult. The anger that simmers just below the surface and then is misdirected at those I care most for. The empty places I seek comfort from the pain of living in a broken and often dark world. In these moments I take comfort in a God of change, a God of renewal. “Forget the former things: do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:18-19). Jesus invites us to change when he says ‘repent and believe the good news’(Mark 1v15). The word repent refers to a changing of attitude or mind; to turn in a new direction and to go a different way.
Padraig O Tuama writes on repentance in his book ‘In the Shelter’: To be open to the possibility of repentance is a sign of the goodness of humanity. To consider oneself immune from the need for such changing of tune, of mind, of direction or idea is to alienate oneself from the argument of being human. Hello to the gift of being wrong. Hello to the gift of repentance. Hello to change. Change is often like an unwanted visitor; I’d rather just be left alone. Change requires humility and humility is hard. Change is also slow. But what if, as I lay to rest the attitudes and actions that are unreflective of the God of Love something else was born? What if out of the darkness something life giving emerged? What if from beneath the dead and decaying leaves on the forest floor pushed primroses, snowdrops, bluebells, trilliums, anemones and erythroniums? A woodland in spring is a beautiful thing, a tapestry of colours and textures a long time in the making. We have a God who since ancient times has been weaving threads of love, grace and beauty into the fabric of this world and into the fabric of our lives. Hello to the God of resurrection and hello to the God who is making all things new!
Peace Prayer of Saint Francis
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not
so much seek to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.
by Paul Burke