During this season of Lent, some of the Alumni and Residents of Newman House will be contributing their reflections on the season. Thanks to David Bennet for this first offering.
For me, Isaiah 61 is a good description of lent. It is about the Spirit of the Lord bringing good tidings to the afflicted and proclaiming liberty to captives. Lent is a preparation for the joy of Easter, a preparation that turns my gaze beyond myself, towards others and especially towards God. It is about a deepening of love which can only take place in a surpassing of myself, which is achieved concretely through fasting and giving alms. Allowing more time for prayer seems to be the source and term for both giving and receiving, preparing a space in my heart for the Kingdom of Heaven, celebrated at Easter. The passage in Isaiah goes on to say that the Spirit of the Lord will give a garland instead of ashes, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit, that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified. I came across this passage on Ash Wednesday and thought it really put what we were doing into perspective. Finally, Isaiah says these people shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations. As a community we go through lent, allowing all former devastations to be rebuilt, celebrating this strengthened communion with the Risen Lord at Easter.