Repenting, Returning

Spring songs of chickadees.  Soggy earth.  Melting snow piles.  Twenty six fuzzy black baby chicks with white bottoms in our store-room.  Sprays of forced forsythia, deep yellow.  Metal buckets full of sap.  The sweetness of the air by the evaporator.  The distinct clarity – liquid purity – drinking a glass of pure sap fresh from the tree.

Returning.  Re-turning.  Turning again.  And again.  Again and again.  All day long.  From the first moment, putting my feet into my slippers, Open my lips, O Lord, and my mouth shall proclaim your praise! And shuffling down to the kitchen to make coffee.  Stumbling down the road to the chapel by starlight.   The outside bell calling us to meditation in the dark.  Already, I’ve returned dozens of times in my attention.  Bead by bead.  Breath by breath. 

The lights come on for Lauds.  Finding my place in the books.  Brought back by the Lauds bell: three short gongs, three long gongs.  Returning from thoughts between the bells.  Squawking out those first sounds of chant, sounding like adolescent roosters.   Concentrating on the texts and the tones.  Coming back, coming back again to attention.

Repenting, not in a vague way, oh, it’s Lent, and I’ve got some repenting to do, I’d better make an appointment with myself to say some prayers and see my therapist and get ready a little self-examination for confession.  Rather, everything, things done and left undone, promising to rake the kitchen garden , feeding the new chicks from the palm of my hand, drinking the cool sap, getting lost in work and then, coming back.  Coming back, returning to awareness of the Presence.   

 How many people over the years have said to me, “Lent is my favorite season!”  I think it’s because of all the opportunities we have to repent and return.  And each time, a thousand times a day, that old man in the icon scans the landscape from his lonely tower, watching for his beloved son, the very son who shunned him, as if he were dead, “give me my inheritance, old man!”  The son squanders the inheritance, casting away the virtues so carefully tended, as well as the money. 

A thousand times a day, the patient father declares a feast.   


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