Finding a way through Lent
Over the past week, Andrew and I have been on the road quite a lot – travelling to Assynt in the far North West of Scotland for a few days’ holiday as well as a couple of journeys into Perthshire to our cottage. On a number of occasions we have been delayed by roadworks – resurfacing or filling in potholes – of course it’s that time of year when (reputedly) councils are trying to use up their road maintenance budgets before the new financial year.
Today, at yet another set of temporary traffic lights, I reflected on the similarities between this practice and the traditional Christian understanding of Shrove Tuesday as a day to use up the rich food in the house (in the form of pancakes) before the Lenten fast! I’m not sure it is a very close parallel, but I found it helpful to while away the stationary minutes by seeing waiting at traffic lights as a new form of spiritual discipline!
Tonight I will do a bit of decluttering before I go to bed, taking down postcards and other bits and pieces which have accumulated around the house and putting some purple candles and cloths around – small visual aids to remind us over the coming weeks that we are in what the church sees as a penitential season. I have about three hours left to decide what I am going to “give up” this year (or to eat the remaining Christmas chocolates perhaps?!)
All of this I find helpful, a sort of annual, spiritual MOT, but this year I am also drawn to seeing Lent as a time to pay more attention to some of the things we don’t notice if our journey is always undertaken at top speed. Mentally I plan to stop, as if at a traffic light, several times each day and notice what is around.
There is so much beauty in the world – as we were reminded during our holiday, from the wildness of the waves during Storm Doris to the calm sunrise and reflections on our final morning – there is also much which is ugly, unjust and wrong – perhaps by paying attention to both I can find some sort of balance for the journey ahead. Jill