From sub-freezing temperatures on February 15 to sunny skies and balmy temperatures on February 22! I don’t know about you, but I have weather whiplash! I think I also have pandemic whiplash – from high into Stage 5 restrictions on January 9th, with the 7 day average of new hospitalizations in Austin/Travis County peaking at 94, to now on the cusp of Stage 3 restrictions on February 20th, with the 7 day average of new hospitalizations falling to 30. It is exhausting going from despair to hope so quickly, going from tense anxiety to finally being able to relax enough to breathe again. It feels like we have turned a corner, and we are moving in a different direction than we were before – both with respect to winter weather and with respect to the pandemic’s deadly grip on our lives.
Lent is a season for turning corners and moving in different directions. Did you know that the word translated as “repent” in our bibles literally means “to turn around, to face a new direction.” When the Greek word for ‘repent’ appears in the gospels (as it does in Mark 1:15, for example), my Common English Bible translates it as “change your hearts and lives.” I like that translation. It helps me grasp more visually what it means to repent, to turn away from what I have done in the past, the ways in which I have lived that I no longer want to embrace; I turn my face in a different direction; I change my heart and my life.
I guess I’ll have to keep “turning, turning, turning, ‘til I come round right!” (to quote an old Shaker hymn). That’s what Lent is for.