Happy belated Groundhog’s Day! I hope you’re ready for six more weeks of… um… what is this, anyway? If this is winter, I don’t know what spring will be. One week it was so cold that I held back from pruning roses lest they get frost-bitten, and it seems only a few days later I was rushing to get the plum tree finally pruned before it burst into bloom. In this disorienting time of changing weather, we’re also about to get a change of liturgical seasons. It’s getting close to the Time of the Color Purple, as we say in Godly Play — to the season of Lent which leads us to Easter.
Now Lent isn’t everyone’s favorite season. Some of us love it… the somberness, the dramatic stories, and the challenges to learn something new or give up on our bad habits. There are those though who find themselves squirming through Lent, and missing the festive flower arrangements, the rock bands, the exuberance of everyday MPC celebrations. And it is, indeed, different. We try to have more meditative services in Lent and we hope each of us will find them meaningful. We will also be doing a new set of interactive prayer stations, inviting you to pray not just with your head and heart but with your eyes, ears, feet, fingers, and pockets. (Pocket prayers? You’ll have to come and see!)
But I invite you all — as I remind myself — to be kind to one another in this spiritual season. Just as we got through Christmas together knowing that some of us were feeling “blue” and out of it, let’s get through the seriousness of Lent together knowing that some of us are just irrepressibly joyful. Joining together in Celebration doesn’t mean squashing our feelings to match the tone of the day. We come with whatever we bring, and the community is formed from that raw material.
To practice this spiritual discipline of holding together joy and seriousness at the same time, I invite you to contemplate the calendar confluence that will be next Wednesday: February 14th, Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day. I’m not sure whether I should wear candy-heart earrings with my clerical collar and ashes, or maybe special-order a pink clerical shirt, or if I should just ask for a heart-shaped ash smudge in the first place (a cross shape, done slightly catawampus, could blend into a heart shape without being too heretical, right?). And it just gets better from there – this year, Easter is April Fools’ Day. But friends, we can do this. We can do two things at the same time, sometimes even three. Aren’t you listening to the radio and eating a snack at the same time as you read this newsletter? Then you also can rejoice and meditate, lament and love — all at the same time.