Lent is officially over. This long season that invites us into a slow reflective space, counter cultural in so many ways to the script of life’s prevailing culture that demands our attention and haste.
To bring Lent to a close I decided to attend a Good Friday service at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Parnell. My hope was to attend the Maundy Thursday service but Cyclone Cook laid to waste my plans and possibly that of most of us as we battened down the hatches and prepared for the worst. The service on Friday was titled ‘The Great Three Hours’, and for some reason I thought it a fair question to ask the usher how long the service would take. Why was I not surprised (and a little embarrassed) when she said ‘three hours.’
To be honest I decided on the spot that I would stay for as long I wanted, and would slip out at an opportune time. Three hours! Seriously? And on a Saturday afternoon?? But as I settled into my seat I began to consider the question, ‘Why wouldn’t I stay for the duration?’ What’s the rush? What else is happening Linda, that would be more important?’ Even though I anticipated that I was going to get a little restless, bored perhaps I decided to stay and allow myself to be absorbed by the space I was being invited into; a beautiful memorial to Jesus last words and final moments hanging from a tree.
When Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane the night before he died, he also invited his friends to share a space with him, to watch, to pray, just to be there. Slumber overtook them and they struggled to be present. Maybe it was just too much for them to watch their Rabbi and friend spill drops of blood as he pleaded with God to take this cup from him. Sleep was a sweet distraction.
Lent is a long season! And if we choose to let something go in order to be open to the possibility of something new appearing it seems even longer! The ‘Great Three Hours’ service, mirroring Jesus’ last 3 hours of life, like the few short hours of his praying in Gethsemane are like little-Lents. These were moments of great sacrifice where the unknown and darkness were forefront and at the time didn’t hold a sense of anticipation or hope for the future.
But Easter Sunday dawned and dawns again and again, an invitation from darkness to light, knowing that we will continue to descend into dark spaces throughout our lives, while being assured that as surely as the moon fades into the western horizon the sun will rise with it’s warmth and light.
Every year when I live through the season of Lent I come away hoping that what I have learned and experienced will somehow usher me into a new space. I’m not too anxious if it doesn’t happen, because I know that this season will return. My prayer is that I won’t wait until February 2018 to allow myself to live the Easter story, but that I will find a way to let it be part of my daily life and rhythm.