Lent is upon us, its sober austerity accentuated by this year’s thick covering of snow.
Lent, a time for sobriety, for abstemiousness, for contemplation.
In the over-stuffed glut of our grocery stores with their brilliantly colored and packaged foods and food-like products, anemic-tasting produce plucked too early from warmer climes and shipped thousands of miles to the cold north, it is easy to forget that not all that long ago Lent was an actuality, a necessity, as well as a religious observance.
With the feasts of winter festival days behind, the better part of winter past but still weeks till the first greens peep from under their winter mantle, the Days of Lent were once a time when physical want and need served as a foil to offset spiritual want and need. Or perhaps it was vice versa, the ritual of spiritual shriving giving a mental fortitude to the belt-tightening required as Fall’s bounty gives way, the roots are eaten, the food put by in plentiful times dwindles.
Deep below the snow, unseen, unguessed, unheralded as yet, the roots and buds are spinning and plotting, the Earth’s fullness is readying itself to spring up and give birth to life and newness just as deep below our outward appearance we can take the time in this season of impoverishment, to reflect on our own need for renewal, for the coming sip of refreshment taken in the coming spring air and revival of life.
Many cultures and times have turned the season of want into a time of reflection, belt-tightening into soul-searching.
Now is the time to view the snow, the cold, the dark and reflect and look forward to the newness of life and earth and beings, to value the lessening and look ahead to fullness.