Thursday, March 27, 2014

Lenten Diary 6

The Fourth Week Begins

     It’s hard to believe the fourth week of Lent has begun. I’ve been so distracted by dreams and schemes I nearly forgot that the whole purpose of Lent is to deepen one’s spiritual life. Spiritual life? If only I had one!
     Well, that’s going to change, though I fear the contrast may be abrupt. Jala and I are going to a Buddhist weekend retreat on the Eastern Shore in a couple of weeks. It’s the sort of thing where time stops. If you’ve been going fast, it could be a shock.
     But that’s a topic for a later post. Right now we’re on vacation from our shared part-time cleaning job at our neighborhood United Methodist Church. Nice place. Clean, too.
     That means temporary relief from having to show up at one of our part-time jobs, and I’m thankful for the break. It gives me more time—paid, no less—to work on my core beliefs. Isn’t that what a spiritual life is all about?
     But restless doubts intrude. In our hopelessly conflicted world, where do I get off pondering my individual, core beliefs? So what if I get my core beliefs straight? How is that helping anything?
     This is part of the wintry hangover burdening my Lenten experience in this protracted season of delayed spring.
     Then, early this week, I got a cold. Strange cold. Caught me off guard. (Don’t they all?) It came on in a day, my nose ran like a faucet for the next 24 hours, then, abruptly, the faucet shut off, and the cold is now fading away.
     I’m superstitious about colds, especially since we all get them. Surely it’s subtle evidence of our human solidarity. Who hasn’t been miserable with a cold?
     That makes me wonder if we create our colds out of our unspoken, perhaps unconscious need for permission to withdraw, to feel sorry for ourselves, maybe to lie down in bed and cry.
     So what am I crying about as this inhospitably chill, fourth week of Lent now begins?
     I have to say, in the wake of my strange head cold, mortality has me down. Unless I look closely, I don’t notice the softening of the ground or realize the Sun stays longer each day. It’s hard to be patient and keep the faith when the northwest wind howls off the Bay for days at a time, driving cold rain up my sleeves and down my collar, numbing fingers and toes. It’s easier to drown in my tears for the missing and the dead when my spirit, trapped in my rocking chair, longs to break out and play.
     But though today sparkles outside in a cold Sun, more rain is forecast for the weekend. At this mid-point in the season of waiting for rebirth—with or without reverence—the Sun and the Wind are at war. I hardly know what coat to put on.
     Pregnancy with a new growing season shouldn’t be taken lightly. I guess that’s why we have Lent.

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