Phyllis Tickle: Spiritual season
The 40 penitential weekdays and six Sundays that follow Mardi Gras and precede Easter are the days of greatest calm in the church's year. Since by long centuries of custom the date of Easter is annually determined from the first Sunday after the full moon on or after March 21, the intertwining of physical and spiritual seasons is virtually inevitable. The resulting union of deep winter and holy preparation makes reflection, even penitence, a natural activity. . . .
Lenzin our German ancestors used to call this season, and since then we have called it "Lent." It is a time when Christians decorate stone churches with the sea's color and wrap their priests in the mollusk's purple. It was once a time when all things passed through the natural depression of seclusion, short food supplies, and inactivity, a time when body and land both rested. It is still, in the country, a final sanity before the absurd wastefulness of spring.
It is Lent once again, and for one more snow I can luxuriate in the isolation of the cold, attend laconically to who I am, what I value, and why I'm here. Religion has always kept earth time. Liturgy only gives sanction to what the heart already knows. (Wisdom in the Waiting: Spring's Sacred Days, Loyola Press) Tickle is contributing editor in religion for Publishers Weekly and the author of more than two dozen books. She lives in the rural community of Millington, Tennessee.
God of such unwavering love,
how do I "celebrate"
the passion and death of Jesus?
I often want to look the other way
and not watch,
not stay with Jesus in his suffering.
Give me the strength
to see his love with honesty and compassion
and to feel deeply
your own forgiveness and mercy for me.
Help me to understand
how to "celebrate" this week.
I want be able to bring
my weaknesses and imperfections with me
as I journey with Jesus this week,
so aware of his love.