Easter Eggs in the shops on 1 January. Fortunately, this year Easter is early. Thank the Lord! An early Whit. An early Trinity Sunday so that—I’m being serious here—I can enjoy all those Sundays after Trinity over summer that in 2013, the Lord told me in a dream, will happen on 18 July. Then comes the most important liturgical festival of the year, Harvest, compared to which the crucifixion and resurrection/ascension are mere blips. I know Rectors with six churches who have found their anatomical appendages under grave threat of amputation when they had the nerve to suggest that each church didn’t need its own Harvest.
Anyhoo, I digress. Easter is early so Lent is upon us almost before the last of the Christmas chocolate cherry liqueurs disappear ‘down the little red lane’ (as Anthony Blanche called the oesophagus when he swallowed four Brandy Alexander cocktails in quick succession. Brideshead Revisited, since you ask. Oh, never mind). We turn from crib to cross at the last great feast of Incarnation/Epiphany/childlikeness: Candlemas, or Presentation, or Purification, or whatever you want to call it. Simeon holds the divine child and says ‘this is enough, I need no more’. Ich habe genug—if you have not heard Bach’s Cantata of the same name, it’s not too late. Find the first movement on YouTube here sung by the glorious Dietrich Fischer-Dishcloth as at least one member of my family calls him. Words can hardly express the satisfied gently swaying longing that Bach conjures up. Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
The old man carried the child, but the child governs the old man: you might reflect on how spot-on that is psychologically. The child is the father of the man. We are governed by thought patterns laid down in childhood. Childhood innocence, willingness to explore and ability to have fun are, as we grow up, so easily perverted by the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that life throws at us. The supermarket trolley of the psyche becomes more and more wayward, and less and less inclined to head for the target we once thought we were aiming for.
We need the 3Rs: repent, recall and recover the childlikeness we’ve lost. Michael my Ordinary (Peace Be Upon Him) sometimes asks: is the child you once were proud of the adult you have become? Examining that is worth the Lenten discipline of spiritual spring-cleaning. If the answer is no (and I doubt that anyone can truthfully answer otherwise), what are you going to do about it?
* Yesterday I came across this as naval gazing which puts a lovely new perspective on things, for all the nice girls love a sailor.