Each Sunday in Lent we will be sharing a short reflection written by a Christian author. This week's comes from fiction author, Simon Parke. Simon's new novel about the last days of Charles 1st is called ‘The soldier, the gaoler, the spy and her lover,’ and is published by Marylebone House.
What do I like about Lent?
I have recently written an historical novel which reminds me what I appreciate about Lent.
My chosen century was the 17th, and in particular, the last months in the life of Charles 1, the only English king to be executed.
On January 30th, 1649, he stood on a cold scaffold in Whitehall; and it was cold, the Thames had frozen over. He wore two shirts that day so that he did not shiver and appear afraid to the waiting crowd.
And then, having placed his head on the block, with one swing of the axe, he lost his head.
The king was dead.
It had not been an inevitable death, far from it. But as we follow the twists and turns of the narrative, the ever-shifting scenery of life, it somehow stands waiting for us, there at the end of the story.
We know what’s going to happen, we can’t avoid it... and thankfully, it’s the same with Lent.
We might use this season in a number of ways, choose from various spiritual practices. But however we use it, we know the destination of Lent: the Good Friday crucifixion of Jesus.
It is always there in our consciousness. Like a deep scratch in the window, whenever we look out, we see it.
We may not die for another fifty years, another seventy years...we may die in eighteen months or tomorrow. But the ‘when’ doesn’t matter.
The genius of Lent is the reminder of death; and in particular, the reminder that life is best lived in its kind shadow, in the creative companionship of the daily letting go of our egos... and in our awareness, one day, of our physical death.
I call it a kind shadow, when it might seem unkind.
But an understanding of our brevity gives life energy, focus and perspective. We are passing through, brief travellers on earth. How goes my journey? Is this the journey I want?
Sitting on the side in my kitchen is a card which says: ‘She decided to live the life she’d always imagined.’
It reminds me of the phoenix arising from the ashes.
It’s the sort of decision people take when something in their life has died; perhaps something they clung onto at the time.
Death, in its many guises, brings loss and pain... and grief needs its voice and its tears.
But it also brings space, fresh space, different adventures, a new order.
The genius of Lent, like a deep scratch on the window, is to remind us of death – our small deaths, our big death - so we might live the life we imagined.
The gospel of Luke describes the moment Jesus called out from the cross with a loud voice: ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!’ And when he had said this, he breathed his last.
Until he breathed again...
March 5th, 2017 - Posted & Written by Laura White