Sunday, March 5, 2017

Lent on the Farm

With Ash Wednesday on March 1st, the Lenten season has begun. Ashen foreheads were prevalent about Milledgeville on Wednesday, and no doubt many discussions took place about what luxuries and comforts will be given up during the next forty days. In our grand tradition of missing the point on purpose, my Grandmother and I always gave up rutabagas and Brussels sprouts this time every year, and our Springtimes have been unanimously wonderful. We are pleased to carry on with such a bewildering array of lifestyle changes this year, of course. If it ain’t broke. . .

Those who give up things that they actually like during this time of year will likely say that refusing a couple of life’s luxuries in order to replace them with increased focus on the divine is a greatly enriching experience. I have no cause to doubt them, and I suspect that the irreligious amongst us can agree in principle. Many of us find that the “off the grid” aspects of a vacation—when we can turn the phones off, let the email program auto-reply for us, and stay out of conference rooms—are the most vital aspects of getting away, long before the luxuries of our destination have their effects on us. We can, to borrow a phrase from a certain Roman Catholic writer, with one eye squinted take a sacrifice as a blessing.

This spirit has put Easter atop the list of my favorite holidays. The sacrifices of Lent and the mournfulness of Holy Week give way on Easter Sunday to celebration and a renewed sense of purpose and direction. Even the sacred music that churches use during this time of year reflects this range of emotions; to answer Friday’s “Were You There?” with Sunday morning’s “Hallelujah Chorus” gets at the transformative nature that the preceding forty days are supposed to have on those who participate.

We can’t get you permanently off the grid out at the farm, but we can offer a little peace and quiet on the trail or the porches. Even during the times when I’m a bit swamped with some behind-the-scenes duties at Andalusia, a quiet moment with Manley II and Joy at the aviary can be just enough of a “detox” that brings back my sense of focus. A little renewal can go a long way indeed.

Sacred Heart Catholic Church, site of many an Ash Wednesday for Flannery and Regina O'Connor

Daniel Wilkinson is an Instructor of English at Georgia College, Bon Vivant at Andalusia, and was for a recent Lent season, Interim Minister of Music at First United Methodist Church of Milledgeville.

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