Monday, March 29, 2004

We are now well into Lent as well as Spring, past the halfway point with the Paschal celebration in sight. As usual, I have accomplished less than intended, kept the fast less well than I wanted and live no less comfortably with my many faults than I did before. Still, without the annual discipline, what state might I be in? I don't have any deep thoughts about the season. For that I would recommend a work like Alexander Schmemann's Great Lent. There are great treasures in the services and the disciplines of the Fast. Still, for me it is more like one of our more mundane chores here on the farm, walking the fencelines. Sheep, like my thoughts, tend to wander off from their own pastures with small respect for boundaries or even their own health and safety. We fence them in with posts and fence rails, mesh wire, barbed wire, old stone walls, whatever is available. Some things work better then others. Even the best fence fails sometimes. Tree limbs fall at inconvenient places. Gullies wash out under wire fences leaving escape tunnels for fugitive sheep. Every so often, we need to walk the fencelines, repairing a tear here, removing a fallen tree there, piling rocks or logs to close a gap under the fence. It won't keep the sheep from trying. It won't even keep a few from succeeding in sneaking through. But, with luck and a little grace, it does keep us from waking up and finding the entire flock chewing it's way to town down either side of the blacktop. Likewise, the disciplines of Lent may not have made much of a dent in my own wayward nature, but they do remind me of where the fences are.

We are now a week into Spring, and the only signs so far on our Hillside Farm (besides the flock of disgruntled robins hopping around in last week's snow flurries) are the green spears of new grass in the pasture. The equinox is a time when light and darkness are in balance. Our weather is oscillating between warm and cold, dry and wet, perhaps seeking a balance of it's own, a kind of climatic equipoise.