At times when I have fasted, the first three days seem the hardest but further in I feel sharper and more focused. I know not everyone attains that.
This year, while contemplating Lent during this season of my own deep grief, I have wondered a lot about the Garden of Gethsemane and the preparation that came before the dark hours of agony.
Tonight I remembered when I physically visited the Garden outside the old walls of Jerusalem in 1986. I still remember the beauty of the garden in stark contrast to some of its surroundings.
I contemplate the things we do not know from ancient records about the garden. Things like if Jesus and the disciples had gone to the same garden and broke bread together in the bejewelled morning dew, or sat sipping sweet middle eastern tea in the scorching midday, perhaps splitting pomegranates and letting the juice run down their beards as the summer sun slipped like a quarter into a back pocket on the horizon.
And if they did one or all of these things, what did they think of while they participated? Did the times of idle fellowship, earnest conversation and sweet contemplation figure into their later writings? The writings that came after the hours of agony, denial and sacrifice?
Lent is always a season of reflection for me - memories of Israel, thoughts of the ever present Kingdom of God being at hand intermixed with the wonder that the most vulnerable of all - a baby - not an army, aome into the world and changed us one heart at a time.
May that knowledge this Lenten season remind us of our own garden moments and friendships that have brought joy and pain. Those moments which have changed the world around us one heart at a time through our careful recording of the joy and agony of life under the illuminated shadow of the cross.