I’m not doing anything for Lent, I declare inside my head.
Who do I think I’m talking to anyway – stomping my foot, crossing my arms. Some imaginary other, some critic, some watcher?
I’m not doing that this year. Lent is here, that’s fine, but I am not doing it. I gave up enough last year. I am tired and cranky and want to be left alone.
This has been going on for a couple of days, my bad temper over a trip out of state for a hard funeral firmly cemented into place by the arrival of gross slushy ice only an hour after we got home.
The cold hurts my bones, makes my teeth ache, chapping and cracking my skin. I bundle and fluff, seeking comfort in any way I can – blankets, food, distraction, drink. I scratch and claw, nesting around myself, trying to find warmth.
It happens, always, and I remember but still forget and insulate myself too much, building the nest too high until everything else is muffled and I can only hear the rattling reverberations, the chattering inside my own ever-running brain. It gets hard to breathe, hard to reach out, I am prickly.
And then Lent comes, offering a way out.
I’m not doing that this year. Leave me alone.
Oh, but it is the way out.
How else to come back to life
except by chipping this bark
stripping these layers
meant for warmth, now stifling
Of course it almost hurts
the shock and sting of air on skin
after too long covered
the blink and burn of light on eyes
after too long shut.
Lent. Yes, I will do that this year.
I will enter in, prune and peel and examine the darkness, calm the clattering with silence,
so that when the light comes
I will revel in its heat on my face.