The temperatures have slowly begun to rise... we've even had a few days which can be described as 'mild'! The sun has been shining intermittently, sometimes blazing from a brilliant blue sky, sometimes gifting us with the most glorious sunset. Buds are beginning to bud, flowers slowly flowering... birds seem to be singing a little bit more cheerily... and the days are noticeably lengthening and becoming lighter. Yes, at last, after winter dark and bitter coldness, spring is springing forth! Even on cold, dull, rainy days we can see various signs of spring, feel the warmer temperatures and appreciate the extra light.
The Old English word for spring is lencten: literally lengthen, to describe the gradual increase in daylight. It is also, very wisely, the word from which we get Lent. It reminds us that Lent - despite its austerities - is not a time for darkness and gloom; rather, it is our springtime with God. It's a time for new life and growth, for opening up that which has been tightly shut, for blossoming: for emerging from darkness and basking in God's warmth and light; for turning towards the Sun of Justice, source of all light and life.
Like nature, we too can respond to the invitation to look towards him and be radiant (Ps 34.6). Not always easy when we'd much rather just eat a chocolate digestive (or eat or do whatever we've given up...), but it's in the craving that we are reminded of the One for whom we really hunger - ultimately, the only One who can really satisfy.
Happy Lent everyone - may it truly be a blessed springtime for us all!