My church background did not focus on the Lent season … other than the passion week, or Holy week, where my fasting attempts usually left me feeling a little less holy. This year I’m out of the chocolate bunny’s reach and left to ponder anew the central meaning of the old story. Does it translate into reality in the wanderings of faith?
Recently on a fast paced walk with my sister-in-law, I told her I needed a poem for Easter … I’d already purchased two new poetry books at the thrift store. A cup of coffee and further conversation at her house followed that walk. As the last drops were sipped, she went to get something and said, Here I think this is for you, as she handed me Malcolm Guite’s book of Poetry and Lenten readings; a poem-a-day with explanations. Reading these daily poems has brought a new freshness to the Lent season for me. Not only that, some poetic writing happened … my apologies to those who are less likely to read poetry. Many of these thoughts originated while walking along an Ontario spring river where thin sheets of ice break into pieces, these pieces rise up and for a brief moment the broken edges shine brilliantly. The topic of reflections initiated ideas both as mirror images and of bending back what has been sent to the recipient. I appreciate the idea that a mirror image on water reflects what it is shown, while a prism bends the light.
Do I reflect back to you what you reflect to me?
And if not, why not?
Can the fractured glass hold back its prismatic beauty?
Catching the rainbows
as the Light shines upon it.
Waters dark and deep glisten in the rays
The echo returns not a new song,
but a muted variation of what has been heard.
If the truth be that I only know what I’ve been shown,
would there be a point to the search,
or is the journey of the question,
the quest that causes our hearts to burn within us?
John Donne said in his poem:
… and mysteries
Are like the sun, dazzling, yet plain to all eyes.
Death and resurrection are powerful and painful thoughts focused on before Easter. This next poem recalls the first Easter when that resurrection promise did little to alleviate the painful loss of two children. I have long given up the giving up for the lent season. For people bereaved, the Lent is too long. I admit I was happy to receive Lent readings halfway through the forty days. I do not feel a need to manufacture any more heaviness in my Lenten contemplations. I long to experience the joy and hope that Easter brings, the busting out of new life after the frozenness of winter.
That Easter years ago
When thoughts that the promise of resurrection
would be the comfort, the
Power to overcome the weight of grief …
Vanity of vanities, all is vanity
Death, where is thy sting?
Where is thy sting?
Who dares ask me that question?
Is in my heart
It relentlessly courses down my cheeks
It darkens a sunny day
It knots my stomach tight
It robs my sleep of dreams by day or night.
Powerfully absent that Victory o’er the grave,
The grave too fresh, too wrong, two young the spirit
My numbed heart shrouded in death’s dark vale.
Vanity of Vanities, all was vanity
And so as time heals all wounds,
It also wounds all heals
As it wears down the sharp edge of the grave
It also mutes the vibrancy of the spring flowers
Victory, when will you come?
When will you thaw grieved hearts
When will spring resurrect dreams of life?
Is it all vanity? …
(The silent church pause)
The heavens remained quiet
Victory comes in battle, it skirmishes the mind
It cries out in the night, cries out to those seemingly silent heavens
It pleads the prayers of resurrection.
Greater things than these shall we also do …
Overcoming sorrow by
Hope-filled prayers in the night,
by candles lit, by songs sung
by moments of awareness as our
O-open and the
P-power of the risen Christ
E-envelops our stricken souls
May it be as you have said … (I believe) help me in my unbelief …
Wishing you Hope for this spring season.
Jocelyn is the author of Who is Talking Out of My Head? Grief as an out of body Experience, during the month of March and April she is offering a free copy of her book to those who ask. If interested please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will mail you a copy. People that bought the book, have told me it has been a powerful help for understanding deep grief and how to support someone in that time.