That from George Herbert. It is not one of his poems that seems most memorable – except for that first line and in the context of a series of poems up to that point. It is startling though. Think of Lent as a “feast?” Not likely. Sisters who work in the Chapel will like Lent – for the shear simplicity of it all. The plants are gone, no flowers, no fuss and the stripped altar…. The Sister in the Kitchen may like it too. Simple meals. It is a time to wash the slate of the soul clean and make a fresh start.
Confession. That’s the name of another Herbert poem. “O what a cunning guest/ Is this same grief! within my heart I made/ Closets; and in them many a chest;/ And, like a master in my trade,/ In those chests, boxes; in each box, a till:/ Yet grief knows and and enters when he will.”
He’s right. We like to lock away the “stuff” in nifty little places, our little griefs and bitternesses. We try to lock it all down in hidden places. We use the Basement for material “stuff”. Attics anyone? Lent is a good time to check out some of our non-material stashes – and to ask Our Lord to help us. He will, too. Herbert says God does it with “affliction” but that, with honesty of soul, the “moles” of sin cannot take hold. “Smooth open hearts no fast’ning have….” With the Lord Jesus help, we too can have clean hearts. So, – Welcome dear feast of Lent!