Bringing the days of Lent into focus.jpg

Bringing the days of Lent into focus

By: Margaret Brown

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ROUTINE AND repetition have a way of deadening mind and imagination and are two familiar aspects of religious worship that may hinder a closer relationship with God.

Any faith needs feeding by constant practice, but to engage heart and soul at all times is another matter altogether. While some people have no difficulty with accepting that which can neither be seen, heard nor touched, for others the path is strewn with doubt. Curiosity is essential to the quest for enlightenment, a journey fuelled by hope, but dogged by doubt and diversions down other roads. Whether sown in childhood or later in life, the seed of faith has to be nourished.

Although the words of the Old Testament forecast the coming of the Messiah and those in the New Testament record his birth, ministry, death and resurrection: without imagination the story has no third dimension. In its absence, how may the mind’s eye conjure Christ’s life from the printed page and give resonance to his work and final suffering? Only when heart, mind and imagination are joined may we hope for that which we cannot know this side of the grave.

At the start of Lent, those who attended Ash Wednesday service may have received the sign of the Cross on their forehead: drawn by the Priest after he had dipped a finger in the ashes of last year’s palm crosses. It is a gesture of contrition symbolising the ancient near eastern practice of throwing ashes over one’s head as a sign of repentance before God. Thereafter follow the 40 days of Lent, during which a revision and clean-up of one’s way of life is advisable, highlighted by the laying aside of personal indulgences. To take no alcohol, eat simply and give more time to prayer and Bible study help bring Lent into focus.