Yesterday the year began.
And if not yesterday, surely the week before.
I don't tend to keep Lent now. Or rather, what I keep of it is very small, a mere memento or nod. The seasons of the church are what we have left of that hope to devotion.
More, to the devoted life.
Yes, we say disciplined.
The disciplined life. But no more than that: we are trained like small monkeys to another sort of living and it has its own hoops. To keep or not that small attempt at devotion is like a shadow of the life we should be pursuing.
And for those who are able to achieve some degree of impulse to the holiness to which all are called, Lent is most sublime.
All of holy day in the holy season.
For the rest, holiness is scattered like drops of holy water, perhaps, or like crumbs scattered to a flock of waiting birds.
But think of a life that were as sublimely set to that 'set apart' that is both holiness and 'that towards which we strive' in our small attempt at Lent's disciplines.
But to say that and have it resonate with the sad gentleness that it must have, to be of any use, I would need an emoticon. And emoticons do not come in sad gentleness.
So we are left with words.
And the next, which I thought yesterday afternoon, as I waited the bus under a sky that was changing, but still largely gray, is too pert to be respectful. Yet I will mark it herein anyway, after I finish remembering that sky, and the way a circle of blue kept trying to remedy the gray (as if a brooding sky should ever need its kneading, even if it had been sullen all through the day, more so than the brooding I might have wished) was watched most joyously.
I am most fond of gray skies, whether they are brooding or sullen.
Every bit as much as I am fond of blue.
Weather delights me to the very soul.
But there, joyous, as was the picture that almost had me reaching for my camera as I came out into the ambulatory, the work day done and only the ride home on the city bus (and walk from it to my doorstep) remaining...
The redbrick arches at the other side of the walkway, flanked on all sides by winter's gray trees, but there, framing two orange-gold skies, where the sun danced before its leaving. All that red and gray, but there, that orange-gold snippet of sky, each made into its own half-arch by the arches through which, in the distance, I could see them.
That same play of gold and gray resonated on the many buildings visible at that block of Peachtree Street. One mirrored facade glittered in green, another in shades of gray, and still another had a bright and facile light behind a softer gray, so very resonant that I again almost took out my camera.
But I did not. Instead I thought of the coming season, and conversations already being overheard about what different individuals planned to give up for Lent.
I will give up fear for Lent, I thought, carrying on conversations in my head.
But only forty days of it, and I will snatch it back on Sundays, which technically are festival days and not a part of the Lenten fast.
And only forty days, and when Lent ends, fear will be mine again, and I can hide in it anytime I want.
And I knew as I was thinking that I was being too pert and I do not like pertness when we are considering even the shadow things of our God. And were Lent the true training that all discipline should be (rather than our pretence that a life that has been given over to the Master can indeed jump through hoops, and such hoops be 'enough' for a year), I would give up fear, and better than I am able, and truly.
And most certainly would not 'snatch it back.'
Or revel in even the momentary pertness...
I do commit to an 'add-on,' however, as much (more than, really) as the take-away of without that we tend to knead as our Lenten discipline.
I will post to pungere each of the forty days.
Don't know about the festival days. Will leave them to decide as each comes. For I know fairly well now the joy that our Lord giveth, and that He honours even our sad attempts at training and being trained with all the gentleness that is His own...
So I close here with a Bible verse, rather than opening with it...
Perfect love casts out fear...
And we who do not love perfectly but do fear can know from it that He will lend us some of His love, while we are in training....
[Editor's note. 1 John 4:18.]