So, it is Spring again, that beautiful time of year where the plants, trees and bushes begin to regrow and blossom. Were animals such as Hedgehogs emerge from hibernation and birds are looking forward to building nests. Where we can slowly start to decrease the number of layers we wear outside, and the frost begins to subside (hopefully!).
This is a joyous and beautiful time of year where we similarly emerge like hedgehogs out of hibernation from the winter and look forward to the year to come. Filled with the themes of rebirth and renewal this time of year can be where the year really starts for us after the post Christmas and New Year lull that is January and February.
This time of year also signals the beginning of something else; Ash Wednesday is on the 2nd March and this signifies the beginning of Lent. The 40 days (or 46 if you include Sundays) before Easter. Lent is a time of spiritual discipline, and it marks the 40 days Jesus spent in the fasting in the desert.
As such Lent is often a time where people choose to give something up to follow Jesus’ example of fasting. It is also a time where churches will often hold lent courses to develop spirituality, Churches will often be much barer and sparsely decorated and Sunday’s bible readings throughout this period will contain quite a bit of fasting and wearing sackcloth and they will reflect the themes of this season.
At its heart, this season of Lent is a time for reflection. It gives us time to reflect on our lives, to reflect on our priority’s, to reflect on where we have been and where we are going. This is also a time for stillness and quietness, and for simplicity. Through this we can encounter God, listen, and discern where we feel we are being called to and who we feel we are being called to be. Lent is a time to pause it is a time to be still and to contemplate.
The joyful and ecstatic rejoicing of Easter is just around the corner and lent is the time where we look forward to that. Rejoicing joyfully at the miracle of the resurrection is so much more powerful when it is done after a time of quiet, still contemplation and that is the gift of lent.
I think this year we approach Lent and Easter in quite a different frame of mind than previously. The pandemic has meant that we have not been able to celebrate Easter in the way we would like these last two years and Lent has been slightly lost in the chaos. This year, while still being cautious, we are in a better and more optimistic position than we have been for the last two years.
So this year more than ever is an opportunity to go into this period of Lent after these two years we have had in the wilderness and reflect, be still, contemplate and encounter God. Using this time to deepen our spiritual selves and our relationship with God. Using this time to be still because in 40 days’ time Jesus will burst from the tomb and our stillness and our quiet contemplation will be replaced by rejoicing in awe inspired excitement at the resurrection of our saviour Jesus Christ.