I've noticed this week that the privet has dropped all its flowers and the honeysuckle, what little of it there is this year, is past its prime. The only flower left in my yard this year is a beautiful lily. Perhaps it is appropriate that an "Easter Lily" is the last flower to bloom before the heat of summer kills back Spring's rush to life--just as we leave the Paschal season and go into another season of inner work. I got to thinking about how the baking heat of summer is just beginning and how long that season is compared to the other seasons down here in Dixie. Just as a baker mixes the ingredients and then bakes the product, Spring is perhaps the time we store up sweetness in our lives before the heat of life comes to bake us into the product of whatever ingredients we've put into ourselves.
During the deadness of Winter, we sleep. We go into ourselves and rest from the labors of Autumn's harvest work. Then, at the end of Winter and just before Spring fully arrives, Lent comes and awakens us to ourselves and to the inner work of repentance. And Spring, of course, is the Paschal season--the taking in of sweetness in our lives--the foreshadowing of Paradise--the gathering together of all the "ingredients" we've gathered during our sojourn into repentance--before returning to the baking heat of life.
During the learning seasons of Lent and Pascha, we search for and endeavor to restore our "soul's powers to their former nobility." This brings us an unutterable sweetness. This "sweetness" we experience during the season of Pascha brings very sharply to our awareness the happiness we hope to share with the angels in eternity. Happiness in this world seems to be very elusive, but that's just a "seeming." We have happiness if we just look for it. It's not easy. We're too caught up in our troubles and our failed or unaccomplished goals in life. We start out life with dreams and expectations of how our life will be; and then, of course, Life intervenes and all our dreams and expectations go down the drain while we watch with a "silent scream" on our faces, helpless to do anything about it. So, we have no happiness because we mourn the "can't be" instead of what we actually have in our hands. Actually, we're so busy mourning what we don't have that we literally cannot see what we have. We need to stop for just a minute or two (these days that can seem like a very long time) just to open our eyes and be aware, MINDFUL, of what is really right in front of us and work with that. Lent and Pascha help us to sharpen that mindfulness--that spiritual vigilance necessary for our growth into personhood--while the drudging, heat times of our lives allow us to put these things into practice.
During the "baking season" of our lives, all the ingredients we've gathered during the learning seasons of Lent with its inner work of self-awareness and repentance and of Pascha with its foretaste of Paradise and eternity come together in our souls and form us into a new person. During this time those things that we have learned--those things that we have re-discovered and have tried to grasp--come together in a "convergence of the principal virtues in an activity that accords with nature" through the practical application--the practice of them--during the drudging, working time of our lives. Who and what kind of person this is will depend on what "ingredients" we allow to remain in the mix during Lent and Pascha. The good thing is, though, we get to do this every year; so if we get the mix wrong one year, we have another chance the next year.