We are nearly at the beginning of Lent, late this year. Last year we were already a fortnight past Ash Wednesday by today’s date, at the end of the second week, nearly – where Eliot wrote,
Lady of silences
Calm and distressed
Torn and most whole
Rose of memory
Rose of forgetfulness…
The silences of Lent begin “with the voice of God, singing the praise of Jesus, the Son. Just as this affirmation calls Jesus into the wilderness (Mark 1.9-13), so it calls us, too.” (Jane Williams, The Merciful Humility of God) Here, after thirty or so presumably uneventful years, was the beginning of the fulfilment of Simeon’s words to Mary in the temple (Luke 2.34-35). Yet she remained, throughout her Son’s trial and crucifixion, that “Lady of silences…” as she entered her own most terrible wilderness (John 19.25-27). “Here is your mother…” Not a word.
“Remember that you are dust…” The priest’s words echo over the beginning of Lent, calling us to listen to our own frailty, our own finiteness. “And to dust you shall return.” The dust of the wilderness, from which we were made, dry in the singing heat that rises from the parched dust, dry as the rock from which it was worn by the wind, by the sun.
Lady of silences, pray for us. As the weight of the words raises our dust in the dry heat, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.
[Also published on The Mercy Blog]