Dear Sor Juana,
I am in the northern hemisphere for the beginning of Lent. The season makes more sense on this hemisphere. Early hints of spring: swallows find their way to medieval rooftops and the snow starts to shrink in the distance.
Spring goes out on a limb, stretching into new spaces, not always quite ready to be occupied.
Working to the edge of our discomfort is where growth happens.
Sor Juana, you were in my thoughts while I looked over Assisi, I wondered how you started your Lents? Perhaps you took yourself to the edge of your comfort zone, to find out just how far you needed to go? Francesco and his Friars, ceaselessly tramping around their world joyously proclaiming, working and praying would have had more than the echoes of their voices bouncing off the stones! Building fame through faith and fortitude, was not what his father had in mind for his son – taken to the edge for sure like so many parents past and present! Standing in front of the baptismal font at the family church of San Rufino I took pity on all parents who in good faith welcome a child and then the child belongs the world, and we get taken to our growth edges. As a mother this happens first in our bodies, our hormones, our blood and bones. Then the time comes and we burst with new life. (Perhaps pregnancy is a bit like Lent too. I am in the early stages of my grand mothering apprenticeship and find I am remembering pregnancies and the journey to parenthood most days.)
Going out on a limb is part of any journey. You take a turn in the road, come across an obstacle that needs to be traversed, limbs appear at many junctions and you can go around them, ignore them or go out on them. The uncomfortable places lead you to rely on the generosity of others, wait patiently for the moment to pass, or perhaps be silent to listen and feel explicitly what lesson the limb is inviting you to experience. Staying with the limb and not retreating to a comfortable place is what Lent is about for me, it is where you see the buds appearing, first signs of fruit and nectar being gathered up to make honey.
Biting into harvested fruits and honey is another season and another kind of courage.