Trust Chaplain’s blog for Lent
Five days in - how is it going? Are the chocolates safely out of the house? Is the lid still firmly on the biscuit tin? Is the alarm ringing ten minutes earlier in the morning to allow for a concentrated period of prayer, meditation and Bible reading?
You might think that these are strange questions to ask, but for Christians, these can be quite apt, for we have entered the season of Lent which leads to Holy Week and the great festival of Easter.
Lent is a time of spiritual retreat for Christians and the whole Church throughout the world. We are invited to 40 days of stripping down to the bare essentials of discipline, meditation and prayer.
I imagine that we all have our own ideas of the significance of Lent in our lives. Sometimes we can see the whole purpose of this season as an obstacle course of spiritual and physical challenges to endure, but I think this view of Lent is disastrously wrong. Whether we have a faith or not, Lent has many different themes.
Lent gives us permission to slow down. We don’t often draw apart from the noise around us or the overload of messages. For busy parents of young children or working people, the advice to be silent and still must seem impossible! However there are many kinds of silence.
It is necessary to allow our lives to be examined; we need silence to know the foundation, the roots, and the tendencies of our true nature. Inner silence is comparable to a light that reveals what is in the shadows. We find we have the longing for the sublime, to wait in silence, openness and stillness. There is a quietness that heals and listens, we grow into greater wholeness in mind body and spirit.
There is no escaping that our lives are marked by a rhythm of darkness and light, of day and night, sleep and waking. These themes are also part of the Christian Gospels, where we are offered the constant challenge to stay awake and pray with Christ in Gethsemane. This is why I believe Lent is a pilgrimage, a natural expression of a hunger for the spiritual, an expression of a search - a tentative hope. It gives space for the unsure, and space to find something on the way or at the end...
I leave you with one of my favourite poems by Jane Hirshfield
It is foolish
To let a young redwood,
Grow next to a house.
Even in this one lifetime,
You will have to choose.
That great calm being,
This clutter of soup pots and books.
Already the first branch - tips brush at the window,
Softly, calmly, immensity taps at your life.
Treelines, a collection of poems - Lautus press