The season of Lent begins this week on Ash Wednesday, the 22nd. But today (Sunday, the 19th) is the Sunday of Transfiguration, the beginning of a more inclusive season, The Great Hundred Days…
In the spring issue of his newsletter, Quadratos Quarterly, author (Alexander) John Shaia shared a video about Lent that has given me a refreshing new way to observe the season. Based on ancient Celtic tradition, he includes the season of Lent and Easter as part of Celtic Spring, “The Great Hundred Days” from Transfiguration Sunday to Pentecost. John then describes Lent, not as a season of atonement or penance, but a season of renewal and reconnection. Here are some highlights:
That’s how we come to this name Lent. Lent is really shorthand for lengthen. The light is lengthening, the warmth is lengthening, and all of that is creating this coming abundance… And The Great Hundred Days were crafted because of what’s going on in our bodies… In nature, the sap is rising and in our bodies the energy is coming back to life. And we want to use that energy to revitalize our relationships in our communities. It’s very important to remember that “Easter” for our tradition was first and foremost the time when we wish to renew relationship… a present moment feast day not (primarily) about the history of Jesus coming out of the Tomb but a celebration that The Rock can be moved from the tomb of our heart. *
I generally regard Lent as a time of sacrifice, prayer, and study, a time to attend to my brokenness and my need for Gods mercy. I traditionally experience Lent as a period of somber waiting until we can rejoice again at Easter. And this Lenten season, I will most likely continue to spend time in reflection and repentance, as I remember with gratitude all that God in Christ has done for us.
But John’s perspectives of renewal and reconnection seem both inviting and needful for this time. My spirit needs to be refreshed; my heart yearns to be reconnected in relationship. So, as I prepared our altar table for the season, I included signs of spring with symbols of Lent. There are photos of our loved ones along with a framed likeness of Jesus. My daily walks will include springtime celebration as well as prayerful reflection. I hope to have time for personal and solitary meditation, but also for gathering with friends.
Perhaps a Lent of both somber penance and hopeful promise is how our hearts become tender and fertile, renewed and replenished for service. We need the tears and rainfall – and the joy and sunshine. We need our souls to rest in quiet meditation – and to be tilled and fed in loving community. We need to receive seeds of inspiration – and to sprout and bloom for others. Lent can become a mindful season to receive all of life as sacred and holy.
May this Lengthening Light of Lent be a season to:
deepen in humility but also in happiness
grow as followers but also as friends
remain mindful of mistakes but also of mercy
practice fasting but also feasting
turn from sin but also from sorrow
express our grief but also our gratitude
find time for contemplation but also for community
seek discipline but also delight…
until the rocks of tomb and heart
are once again rolled away
in the dawning resurrection of us all.
* John’s video may be found here: https://vimeo.com/790006583/dc4e8072dd
More information on his work may be found here: https://www.quadratos.com/
(Photo by Karen)
As light without is lengthening,
the light within shortens,
in its strictures strengthening
the worst of grim portends.
I deeply long to meet the spring,
but hear air struggle through my lungs,
and know too well what this may bring
when it births what it becomes,
and so each day’s a Lenten feast
of what remains and what is lost
unto the belly of the beast,
but I refuse to count this cost,
for though my journey home’s delayed,
the ticket in my hand is paid.
As I write this I really can hear the air trying to force its way through my lungs, unrelated to drawn breath. They say I’m drowning, but it’s weirdly cool .