Although this post is appearing Thursday morning, I am sitting at my desk late Wednesday night struggling with words. I am tired. The words do not want to flow, driven, at least partially, by a an internal battle with my own unrealistic self-expectations. I wrestle with my internal gluttony, not in the most common sense, food related, but in my constant drive to overdo, to think I can do more than is reasonably possible. The war wages on, even as I see myself slowing, taking more time to savor, and often not giving a flip as to whether I have met anyone's expectations, even, at times, my own.
It must be Lent. Somehow Lent has always resonated deeply within me, and indeed I can measure my life not in terms of calendar-years, or school-years, but in Lent-years, as there is always some transformational, and/or transfigurational process going on, sometimes right up front and center, others perhaps a little more in the background. And yet I always emerge, far from unscathed, and yet somehow more whole.
Yesterday, Ash Wednesday, was bitterly cold. But it was also sunny. And it was the first day that my house was bright again, filled with a joyous glow. For a moment, a brief moment only, the dreariness of winter was banished, and the tantalizing promise of light was revealed. I suppose that is one of the things I love about this period. Rebirth will come if we are willing to dive deep. Even at times in my life when I have not been a member of any religion, Lent has been an essential part of my being. Even when I would rather have turned away, even when I would have denied the possibility of transformation, Lent has had its way with me. We see it all around us. Fall, becomes winter, becomes spring. Why should we not have our own winters? Our own Springs? It is a powerful idea, Lent, a ritual that points us toward truth. There must be period of drawing inward, of earth, of rest and regeneration, of sprouting seeds and new roots, of death, a shaking off of the burdens the expectations of others, of life itself, has dusted over us, before we can reemerge, reimagined.
The sunshine. The joyous glow of spring light. The soft mystery of the church half-lit for the evening Ash Wednesday service. Silence. Upturned faces. Looking in the eyes of the other and seeing Love. These are the things worth living for.
I suspect this post is nonsensical. It doesn't matter, and for that reason I will not look at it again in the morning before it posts. Much as the rational mind seeks to find the answers to everything, we still find ourselves searching for something greater, some meaning to make sense of it all. I sometimes think we've lost the mystery of ritual, lost an important signpost on the road to meaning. For me, all that searching is wrapped up in Lent. I go in looking for answers. I come out with knowledge I never thought to seek.
(update 8:03 AM: I still haven't read this post, and am not certain I wish to do so. But as I gazed on this photo in the wee hours, I realized that, this morning at least, this image needed to be added. Photo courtesy of Jackson Fine Art, here. Actually posted on the blog once before, last April.)