Lent: The work of Samuel Beckett, the Irish playwright, has often been described as a depiction of the journey from birth to death. His famous work, Waiting for Godot, shows two tramps who pass their time with a discussion of a series of useless topics as they await this character Godot who never appears. One interesting feature is the backdrop to the scene—a lone, dead tree is to be seen on a bleak landscape. As the play progresses, the tree bears a leaf, a small sign of hope in the midst of the bleakness—a little sign of hope!
Our Lenten journey is somewhat similar. We begin with a dead tree—the ashes of which we place on our foreheads. We end with another tree, the tree of the Cross. The Cross also seems a dead tree, a depiction of the ultimate reality that is the cost of our humanity. Yet the Cross bears a fruit, a miracle of hope. The Cross which was the tree of death becomes, through Christ’s sacrifice, the tree of life.
That is our Lenten journey of forty days. We are called to live these days with a heightened sensitivity to what brings death and what brings life. For that reason we use three old practices—prayer, a turning to God and offering him our time and our selves; fasting, a letting go of the unnecessary and a limiting of appetites so as to live the necessary; almsgiving, a letting go of the extras that sometimes help us but often become little distractions and even obsessions.
That is the key to our Lenten journey. This is meant to be a joyful time—a moment spent with God in great deliberateness. We begin with a gentle reminder that much will take away life but we move from the culture of death to a real appreciation of the gift of life, life that comes to its fullness when we meet the Risen Christ.
Fr Sean Maher
Aumônier des Irlandais