Lenten February

Dar Williams, “February”

First we forgot where we’d planted those bulbs last year
And then we forgot that we’d planted at all
Then we forgot what plants are altogether
And I blamed you for my freezing and forgetting
And the nights were long and cold and scary, can we live through February?

Somewhere in the middle of February, Lent began.  I don’t know when, exactly; I’d have to look it up.  Ash Wednesday passed me by barely noticed; I felt like Lent had already begun.  My Mardi Gras was the last weekend of January, when I went to my art studio and painted two full days in a row, a luxury I have not had in two years.  It was a time to celebrate: my studio is a cooperative one with many artists, and we had found a new space just in the nick of time before our old lease ended.

And then the snow, and then the snow came
We were always out shoveling and we dropped to sleep exhausted
Then we wake up, and it’s snowing

I live in Massachusetts.  We had the snowiest winter on record compressed into a 6 week span.  I stopped checking the weather; I just assumed it would snow every third day.  Watch snow.  Wait for plows. Buy groceries. Watch snow. Wait for plows. Buy groceries.  Repeat. Repeat.  When the schools are canceled, most of the playgroups are too.  I am home with a one-and-a-half year old.  At least he loves watching the plows.

It snowed almost every Sunday.  Church was cancelled two weeks in a row; most of the other weeks we were still waiting for the plows to get to us, or the roads were too bad to drive.  I find God many places, but the liturgy and the Eucharist are my grounding place.  “Source and summit” the Church says of the Eucharist; I have never felt this truth so keenly. I wasn’t able to make it to Mass for a month.  I don’t know if I’ve ever gone that long without it before.

Isolated, but not completely: the calls can still come through.  Friends in crisis.  A sister in the hospital. I watched the snow and waited and worried.

And February was so long that it lasted into March
And found us walking a path alone together
You stopped and pointed and you said, “That’s a crocus”
And I said, “What’s a crocus?”, And you said, “It’s a flower”
I tried to remember, but I said, “What’s a flower?”
You said, “I still love you”

The snow is melting now.  I’ve been to church three weeks in a row.  My loved ones are healing.  We are getting out; the isolation is lifted.  I am coming out of the fog.  I pray now and I feel rusty, unsure.  Six rough weeks: is that all it takes for me to lose touch with God? I feel as though I forgot how to pray, forgot how to serve, forgot how to be Church, forgot how to do anything but go through the daily motions of physically living.  Yet I am grateful, because as the fog lifts, I see God, still right there as always, saying, “I still love you.”

Lent may not be officially over yet, but I’m ready for Easter.

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