Lent is bizarre down here in the Antipodes.
It starts when summer is ending – during it the clocks are set back as daylight saving time ends – and the days get shorter. The temperatures drop and by Easter it can be getting cold and wet. So the imagery of Easter as heralding in new life, a new springtime, new birth sort of gets lost. Lent becomes the long, spiral into winter, towards Gethsemane and Good Friday and not necessarily out of it. When Eastertime is done the world here enters winter.
I’ve been thinking about this and about how Easter might signify not merely the entering of the long dark but instead the power to live in the winter, when there is no spring.
Flicking through Joan Chittister’s little book “In a high spiritual season” I came across this meditation on moving through autumn and into winter. While it says November it could be April/May here instead.
On the East Coast, November is a sear month, beautiful for its bleakness. The skies hang gray and heavy, the wind gnaws and bellows. Life changes drastically from the velvet days of early autumn. The things we love begin to die right before our eyes. The roses begin to shrivel on the bush, the sun draws away, the colors around us start to darken. Then the streets get quieter, the neighbors disappear inside their houses, and the days darken before the light has had time to seep through the mist of morning. The earth rests.
Autum is a time of great life learnings. We learn that we cannot control the passage of time in life. We learn to accept each of the stages of life with serenity. We learn to look to new moments in life with hope rather than dispair.