“This is one of the things I like about this place!” remarked an older (that means at least my age) woman in the locker room at the pool. “Everyone is groaning in the same way as they try to get dressed after swimming.” And indeed, as we try to pull winter clothing onto damp, stiff, and achy bodies, we do sound something like a chorus of pained animals. I know that I myself am looking forward to warmer weather, when I will be able simply to pull a loose dress over a wet swimsuit and be on my way.
It occurs to me that, this year, the sounds of struggle and frustration emanating from the locker room remind me of the beginning of the Lenten season. If you are a churchy person, then you may know Lent as the 40-day church calendar season of preparation prior to Easter. Some years we glide into it: Advent, Christmas, a few weeks in between, and then the solemnity of Lent. Some years we eagerly await a time of relative quiet and prayer. Some years we are filled with energy as we resolve to make of THIS Lent a time of renewed effort on behalf of justice in a troubled world.
And some years, as I am finding this week, we are struggling. Our spiritual selves feel like those inflexible knees and hips over which jeans no longer slide, or like damp skin to which our leggings stick. We aren’t quite sure how we got into this mess in which bodies and spirits alike feel creaky and sore, unmotivated and resistant.
Perhaps that’s why we need this season to come around each year. Each winter we are someone who we weren’t last year, and we need to be re-grounded in a story that invites us to return to its core, whether we are sleek and mobile or rigid and stuck. Whether our spirits dive effortlessly into the pool or creep down the handicapped ramp, Lent is for us.