I cannot quite believe we are here already. The beginning of Lent is always special to me, I long for it and look forward to it. Some may say this is odd, but I have always been that way. I rarely make 'New Year's Resolutions', foreseeing that they will be broken before dark January is past. But, Lent is a time of renewal when deeper changes are more likely to occur.
The coldness of early spring will transform - bitter wind, sleet, warmth in the sunshine, cold in the shadows. Hopefully, by Easter the sun will shine more often than not, and the rain, when it comes, will fall soft and warm upon the fields. Life will peak through the soil, and bloom in warm corners of the gardens and streets. Renewal at Lent is a natural process, in tune with the seasons,
I can't say I started Lent well this year. Sure, I got up and went to Mass - listened to the Prophet Joel declare 'rend your heart, not your garments', received the blessed ashes with the call, 'Repent and believe the Good News', but none of it sank in that day. I was busy - just going through the motions. We were packing to go and visit my parents, then his. I was going to cook moules frites for my parents - something which met the rubric of fast and abstinence, but had a celebratory feel for the meeting of loved ones.
Since then though, Lent has been slowly sinking in. I have been thinking carefully about how to renew and begin again my relationship with God, with my faith, with those around me and with those in need. I have asked myself, 'what is the Good News to be shared?' I can't answer the question, but there are glimpses sometimes, fragments of light that shine and glimmer in the corner of my eye.
The best things in life are simple. This Lent I will more consciously focus on rejecting the materialism I see all around me - the truth of commercialism is that the things we think we need, we do not. Living more simply has become a constant echo in my prayer these days - I recall Oscar Romero's phrase - Aspire not to have more, but to be more. With this in mind I will return to vegetarianism three days a week, a reminder that there are many things we have that are unnecessary.
We have all the time in the world, time enough for life to unfold all the precious things that love has in store. These words keep coming back to me. They were sung, of course, by Louis Armstrong. I remember them from the day I was married. Now, thy repeat like a mantra I should pay attention to. It is all too easy to let the business of this life carry you along. Before the break for half term put a stop to my gallop I was flat out rushing around. Lent reminds me that there is no need for all that. We really do have all the time in the world. Making time for prayer, and time with loved ones are both vital. This Lent I intend to make sure I do both.
CAFOD have their Fast Day this coming Friday. For every pound donated the government will also donate a pound. We will keep this Fast Day in school, serving simple soup and a roll in the canteen at lunch time and asking each student or member of staff to give as much as they can in return for it. I hope that we will raise more than £1000. Again this is a reminder of the call for us to live sustainably ourselves, and care for those with less.
Admiring the simple things in life has led me to be inventive in the kitchen and garden again. I have been making things for the bath. This time I have made a 'bath melt', full of moisture to make your skin soft. These little melts are made of natural products, and they are inexpensive to make. Now I am gaining more confidence with these types of products I am thinking I could hold a fundraising stall soon, and combine a passion for natural goodness with helping others.
Lavender Tea Bath Melts
Makes 45 bath melts
150g Shea Butter
150g Cocoa Butter
1 sachet of Clipper Sleep Easy Lavender Tea
Dried Lavender Flowers
Lavender Essential Oil
Rosemary Essential Oil
Silicon ice cube moulds (mine were the shape of ladybirds, dragonflies, butterflies and bees)
Place a ceramic basin over a simmering pan of water. Place the two butters into the basin and gently stir them until they are completely melted. Remove from the heat. Cut open the lavender tea bag, and empty its contents into the butter. Add a table spoon of dried lavender flowers. Add 10 drops of Lavender Oil, and 5 drops of Rosemary oil. Stir the mixture.
Place the silicon moulds on a solid flat tray that fits neatly onto a freezer shelf. Gently pour the mixture into the silicon moulds. Place the tray with the filled moulds into the freezer and cool them for about 30 - 40 minutes. Once set, turn the bath melts out. They can be stored in a kilner jam jar, or some such.
If you use moulds the size of a normal ice cube tray, when running a warm bath place one of these under the tap. The result is a moisturising clear bath, scented with lavender and rosemary. My moulds were larger, so I use just a quarter at a time.