Begin again to the summoning birds
to the sight of the light at the window,
begin to the roar of morning traffic
all along Pembroke Road.
Every beginning is a promise
born in light and dying in dark
determination and exaltation of springtime
flowering the way to work.
Begin to the pageant of queuing girls
the arrogant loneliness of swans in the canal
bridges linking the past and future
old friends passing though with us still.
Begin to the loneliness that cannot end
since it perhaps is what makes us begin,
begin to wonder at unknown faces
at crying birds in the sudden rain
at branches stark in the willing sunlight
at seagulls foraging for bread
at couples sharing a sunny secret
alone together while making good.
Though we live in a world that dreams of ending
that always seems about to give in
something that will not acknowledge conclusion
insists that we forever begin.
- Brendan Kennelly
For those that pray the breviary "Morning and Evening prayer (lauds and vespers) for Ash Wednesday form a kind of synopsis of what Lent is about and what to remember as we progress through these 40 days of penance before Easter. To begin with, there are two options for the psalter of Ash Wednesday: Wednesday week IV or Friday Week III." Over at Coffee and Canticles Daria Sockey reflects how Friday Week III reflects on the penitential aspects of Lent which is well worth reading and reflecting on.
For those of us however who choose Wednesday Week IV, it seemed to be appropriate as we reflect on how the season of penance, fasting and alms giving can be a "joyous season" with the psalmist praying "Awake my soul, awake lyre and harp, I will awake the dawn". Both sets of psalms echo the themes of Lent, a call to return to God but that returning to God should be an encounter of joy, a re-embracing of a friend which culminates in the "party" of Easter Sunday.
As you begin your Lent today, may it provide a time of encounter between you and God, where you can find that "province of joy" to rest in the Lord.
Now quit your care- Percy Dearmer
and anxious fear and worry;
For schemes are vain
and fretting brings no gain;
Lent calls to prayer, ...
to trust and dedication;
God brings new beauty nigh.
Reply, reply, reply with love to Love most high.
To bow the head
in sackcloth and in ashes,
Or rend the soul---
such grief is not Lent's goal;
But to be led
to where God's glory flashes,
His beauty to come near.
Make clear, make clear,
make clear where truth and light appear.
For is not this
the Fast that I have chosen?
(The prophet spoke)
to shatter ev'ry yoke,
the grievous bands to loosen,
oppression put to flight?
To fight, to fight, to fight till ev'ry wrong's set right?
and peace will show their faces
To those who feed
The hungry in their need,
and wrongs redress,
who build the old waste-places,
and in the darkness shine.
Divine, divine, divine it is when all combine!
Then shall your light
break forth as doth the morning;
Your health shall spring,
the friends you make shall bring
God's glory bright,
you way through life adorning,
and love shall be the prize.
Arise, arise, arise! and make a paradise!