Brendan Kennelly's poem Begin launches us into our Spring-time. This past week has seen changes in the weather, the extra light each morning and evening is most welcome. We used to associate Lent with Fast, Sin and Confession, which was a very poor way of celebrating life and God, So a different little Confession these days might go this way (like Augustine's idea of Confession being awed by what God does in us): Tell God how thankful we are this day; for the people among us. For life. For health. For fresh air. For the wonders of nature. For beauty. For fun. For laughter. For kindness- For the surprises. For now. Here and this moment. In this place. Our place our moment. Thank you, any ingratitude then leads to Lord have mercy. Our way forward could be: ten minutes of indulgence every day in gratitude; for whom and for what and for where. Are you grateful? Colour in every day with that ten minutes. This is a real Lenten journey. Everyone will feel better- Those around us will feel better and the world will be a brighter place. We have to set up a counter-culture to the painful sadness of the news.
The change in the weather and the extra light every day is invigorating- This is not time to be static or calm even if the weather is wet and windy; the trees don't intrude. I talk to the crocuses these mornings and they talk to me. They tell me that they had come out to play. The snowdrops are their companions but are less voluble. I expressed surprise that they had appeared in spite of the cold and wind. They reassured me that it was their time. They then decided to tell me what to do, Lent (as they understand it) is now my time; our time. It is our Spring. It may be cold. It may be stormy, it may be Covid-contaminated- But this is our time. They challenged me to get on with life; to wake up Spring in myself; to taste the best of each day; to reach into the depths of myself; to bloom where I am. They nodded then over to the daffodils and said that they were next on the rotation-list of nature. Their buds were waking up. The very talkative flowers had a message that seemed to say 'Stir yourself and be the Spring in life.' Even the flowers are now giving orders. They will leave the praying to the rowdy starlings who visit daily.
Begin again to the summoning birds
to the Sight of the light at the window.
begin to the roar of morning traffic
all along Pembroke Road.
Every beginning is a promise
born in light and dying in dark
determination and exaltation of springtime
flowering the way to work.
Begin to the pageant of queuing girls
the arrogant loneliness of swans in the canal
bridges linking the past and future
old friends passing through with us still.
Begin to the loneliness that cannot end
since it perhaps is what makes us begin,
begin to wonder at unknown faces
at crying birds in the sudden rain
at branches stark in the willing sunlight
at seagulls foraging for bread
at couples sharing a sunny secret
alone together while making good.
Though we live in a world that dreams of ending
that always seems about to give in
something that will not acknowledge conclusion
insists that we forever begin.
Fr. Paddy Byrne P.P. Abbeyleix Parish