This year, no set reading book for lent. No set daily prayer. No self appointed deprivation of creature comforts. Yet there has been a stripping back as never before, taking me down dark roads of suffering and reflection, bringing me face to face with Job himself. Raw, painful as the faltering steps of my former self are stripped back and laid bare before my creator, room by room within the dwelling of the soul. Every blemish uncovered, every hurt exposed. As I stood in my garden staring at my former self I heard my friends the oyster-catchers cry the cry of the haunted, drawing my eye to the early buds of my glorious blossom tree. And I was reminded of Philip Larkin’s The Trees:
The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread
Their greenness is a kind of grief.
Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too,
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.
Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In full grown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.
From The Collected Poems by Philip Larkin
We turn our eyes forward to the buds of spring; to things afresh, afresh; my heart beats, faster, faster and my soul lifts and soars like an eagle’s wings -with freedom and the joy of the promise of life renewing. Cherish the beauty of the past and wait for God’s grace to wash over me for the beauty of things to be. I know I am- we are all- given permission to begin afresh; to overcome the chaos; to live, to love, to embrace in the budding glory of the beauty of god’s creation. The waiting is nearly over. Close, oh so close.