Sundays are feast days during Lent. How could it be otherwise on the day that marks the resurrection, when death was officially beat back so that new life could flourish, world without end? It is a grace to have hints of grace sprinkled through a period that daily reminds us that we are badly in need of the grace of new life.
On Sunday last I was browsing through a shelf of books and happened upon a volume of poetry by T. S. Eliot. His work has always intrigued me, exposing as it does both the dark abyss that a self-satisfied modernity never could adequately address and the glimpses of hope that spring up in a grace that modernity tended to reject.
You tossed a blanket from the bed,
You lay upon your back, and waited;
You dozed, and watched the night revealing
The thousand sordid images
Of which your soul was constituted;
They flickered against the ceiling.
And when all the world came back
And the light crept up between the shutters
And you heard the sparrows in the gutters,
You had such a vision of the street
As the street hardly understands;
Sitting along the bed’s edge, where
You curled the papers from your hair,
Or clasped the yellow soles of feet
In the palms of both soiled hands.
This past weekend I saw a lightness of spirit in a daughter who has known what it means to have the dreams and vows of a lifetime shattered by unrepentant betrayal. We have helped her move twice within the past year, the first move a forced one, needing shelter that could no longer be found at home, deep under a cloud of mourning. The stuff to be boxed and carried and carried again and unpacked no heavier than this time, but it felt so. Looking back, the task completed ended in relief, which we mistook for happiness. This move was chosen, the new place alive with sun pouring in (the only room without a window has a skylight), with space enough for guests and hospitality (with energy to spare). We were able to help clean the new place, and unpack all but her own bedroom, so she could begin a new week feeling as though she truly belonged. But the best part, by far, is the lightness of spirit, gentle signs of healing long yearned for and prayed for that are not fully complete but are real, and hold out hope for more.
The dripping blood our only drink,
The bloody flesh our only food:
In spite of which we like to think
That we are sound, substantial flesh and blood—
Again, in spite of that, we call this Friday good.
[From “East Coker” in Four Quartets]
It was a lovely feast day in the midst of darkness, a hint of grace in the midst of brokenness that is enough to remind me to be a person of hope not one of either cynicism or despair.