As I write this piece in Lent, I hope you are given the chance to look back through Easter with ‘resurrection eyes’. I have just discovered that ‘Mardi Gras’ literally means ‘Fat Tuesday’ – it was the day you were supposed to finish up all the leftovers or scraps in your larder/fridge before the fasting of Lent began. Well I still seem to be carbo-loading at an alarming rate, but there’s something quite appealing about being creative with the ‘scraps’, especially when physically, emotionally & spiritually too, we find ourselves low on resources in this deep recession.
We all have wilderness experiences in our lives. Lent and Easter come around to remind us that these experiences are not alien to us but are rather there to be mined for the future. There was a recent piece of good news about a young backpacker found barely alive three days after getting lost on a jog only a few miles from the cattle station he was working on in the Australian outback. That experience will doubtless stay with him for the rest of his life and, if he’s careful, he’ll be able to use it for good. Stanley Spencer the artist who spent most of his life painting in and around the Berkshire village of Cookham was also well acquainted with the wilderness. Between 1939 and 1954, a turbulent period for him and for the world, he produced a series of paintings of Christ in the Wilderness. Spencer had originally intended to produce 40 pictures, one for each day Christ spent in the desert, but in the end he produced only 8 which are no less powerful for that. Two bear special mention; one is called ‘Consider the Lillies’ and reminds us of the sheer beauty around us; another is called ‘The Scorpion’ and portrays the danger which can approach us in life, and how we may confront it. We can face our ‘demons’ on our own, but Spencer’s vision was much larger than that; he was trying to portray Christ as ‘everyman/woman’, all with our own journeys to make, all with our own routes through the parched lands and out the other side. - We all need to know that we, too, can have access to the ‘Patience of Angels’.
Our churches are for private and congregational prayer and praise. We need to know that we can be alone sometimes and survive in ‘the wilderness’ but we also need the friendship of fellow-travellers and companions along the way. Whatever your journeys as Easter unfurls, may you be granted patience, pardon and peace.
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