I don’t know about you, but for me Lent has been all downhill since Ash Wednesday. It began so well, with a nice little burst of fervour as we chomped through our dry bread for breakfast; continued as we said the Office, remembering to omit ‘alleluia’, and probably reached its peak as we sat down to vegetable soup in the evening with that cold, hollow feeling that only a fast of the Universal Church can induce. Then came Ash Thursday. And with Ash Thursday came chemotherapy and its side-effects, from which I am only just beginning to emerge, as moody and morose as it is possible to be. But, alas, with Ash Thursday came the news that all the electrical work we had done a couple of years ago had failed its mandatory Five Year Electrical Check and has to be done again. Then, on Ash Friday, we awoke to discover that one of the reglazed panes of glass in the haywain had cracked to smithereens and had to be replaced. I barely dare look at the dog, for fear of discovering that he is in need of urgent medical attention, and I haven’t yet ventured into the garden, just in case.
The net result of all this is that fervour has taken a nosedive. Lent begins to look immensely long. My Lent Bill, which looked so embarrassingly modest before I began, now seems almost impossible of attainment. Truly, the penances the Lord ‘chooses’ for us are much more effective than any we choose for ourselves. I was musing on this earlier today and realised that, as often happens, I had missed the obvious. While I have been scratchy and irritable and even slightly peeved that I have not been able to set out on my programme of Lenten penances (note the egotism there), I have been failing to make the most of the opportunities offered by the events of everyday. I very much doubt whether I’ll ever be reconciled to the nausea and tiredness my treatment brings; but I could try being nicer to those around me. I very much doubt whether I’ll ever rejoice at having to spend more money on work I thought we had already had satisfactorily completed; but I could try not to grumble about it quite so much. In short, whatever happens, there is one thing I can always do. I can give up nastiness for Lent.