Last week, we were marveling – the kids and I – at our own dependence upon the stream of seasons we are so blessed to travel upon in Wisconsin. It was a sunny Wednesday evening, just crisp enough to confront any delusions of true spring, but plenty warm to awake in us that primal giving of thanks that comes on the winds of change.
The thing about the seasons is, the best part is in the changing. Everything is so new (or so old). Everything that we have missed is returning. All that we have taken for granted is refreshed in our senses. Our memories are reset and we remember why we love the cold so much, or what it feels like to have grass (or mud) between our toes. What a miracle a spring-fed lake is in the dirges of a hot and humid summer. How the air smells as the chlorophyll retreats inside the trees and abandons the leaves to die. Living without the seasons, for us, would be torture. We are not capable of fully appreciating what we have without the marking of the seasons. We need the always new. We need the change.
We’re just embarking on the second week of Great Lent in our house. In the Eastern Church, the Paschal season doesn’t always match up with that of the Western Church. Correction… more often than not, we’re celebrating Easter a week or eight later than our Roman cousins. As Andrew over at Andrew’s View of the Week mentioned in his latest post, Five Years, Roman Easter is close to the earliest it can be this year. Orthodox Easter, in contrast, is nearly as late as it will ever be, on May 1st. That means, among other things, that next week, while the bulk of America is binging on their premium-cost Easter delicacies, I will be stocking up (for the children, of course) on price-slashed chocolate bunnies.
“The more often we see the things around us – even the beautiful and wonderful things – the more they become invisible to us. That is why we often take for granted the beauty of this world: the flowers, the trees, the birds, the clouds – even those we love. Because we see things so often, we see them less and less.”
~ Joseph B. Wirthlin, via CastLight‘s The Details
Regardless of when your Lenten season falls, Lent is the season of repentance, the season of returning to God. The Church, in Her infinite wisdom, takes her cue from nature. She knows that we need the occasional shift in focus to break through the rabble of our habitual nature. Our penchant for routine, as we all know, can serve us well or destroy us, and Great and Holy Lent is one of the many tools the Church employs to keep us from falling victim to our bents and biases.
Once per year, we are called to return. Once per year we are asked to look within and set aright all the cogs and wheels of our lives that have gotten mucked up. Lent is our annual checkup – our deep examination – our appointment with the tool box and the grease gun. Once per year.
But why? Why, if we are always on guard, as we are supposed to be? Why now, and not twelve weeks ago? Why not every day?
Because we are not always on guard. We may want to be, and we may even convince ourselves that we are doing our best, but even a smidgen of honesty shows us that we are not always at the top of our game, nor are we always striving to be. We are not always focused on Christ. We are not, as we wish we were, heading in the right direction at every moment. We need near-constant course corrections. We do need the daily return, as well as the weekly reminder. But we also need more.
Once per year, we need something more akin to an intervention, or an en masse redirection. A transformation. We need a Resurrection.
Enter Great and Holy Lent. Perfectly placed. Perfectly timed. Any closer and the Resurrection would risk becoming part of the noise. Any farther apart and we would risk drifting farther and farther into oblivion, without the annual nudge back onto the straight and narrow.
Enter our Resurrection.
May the Lenten spring bring you back, even when you don’t think you’ve gone anywhere,