Our musings have been lying dormant for a long time. Now that spring has come it is a good time to begin again. Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the season of Lent in Christian churches and communities throughout the world. This is a time for reflection and preparation for the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ at Easter. The vocation of all Christians is to become fully alive in the risen spirit of Jesus Christ.
Hearing the call requires practising the biblical disciplines of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Prayer involves taking the time to stand still and listen to the voice of God that comes from within. To experience that presence within, we need to empty the inner space of selfish needs and unnecessary preoccupations. This inner cleansing is brought about by fasting which fosters a spirit of moderation and knowledge that enough is plenty. The final discipline is called almsgiving which takes us beyond ourselves to reach out to others who badly need a helping hand to encourage and support them on the way. Almsgiving comes from an overflowing heart which is aware of the needs of others. The signing of the cross on the forehead with ashes on Ash Wednesday is a mark for all to see of purification of intention and resolution to observe the biblical disciplines during this holy season.
After Mass today a visit to a friend who is housebound at the moment was a first response. To sit and share together memories of the past and hopes for the future was an uplifting and heartfelt experience. Following the Green Road from Laragh back to Glendalough was an opportunity to walk with the spirit of all the great people who have walked these pathways from ages past. The spirit of the trees stood like guards of honour on either side of the road and the water of last night’s rain flowed compulsively and joyously in small streams by the roadside, while a little further away on the valley floor the waters of the Glendasan river overflowed abundantly from the lakes of Glendalough. Beating the breast and crying, ‘through my fault, through my own fault, through my most grievous fault’ seemed like a distant call which was replaced by a sense of an affirming hand on the shoulder and an inner voice saying,’ rejoice and be glad because through your gifts and my grace and our presence we will continue to make this wonderful world a better place for all’.
Lent reminds us that we can be the best that we can be in and through a Presence which takes us way beyond our natural limitations.