Just as those who live in the northern hemisphere have a sense of something new beginning at the time of year when the snow melts, rivers begin to flow again and flowers appear, so some of us in Western Australia sense a change at the end of Summer as we welcome the end of watering the garden, the end of the fear of bushfires and a time when we can sit longer on the beach enjoying the warmth of the sun instead of sheltering from it. There is a lovely calmness in the air in Autumn and we know that we’re moving into the beginning of a new season.

At this time, for both hemispheres in the Western world, as well as in some other countries, the season of Lent creeps in almost imperceptibly. It’s early this year and other carnivals and events can sideline it. Even the merchants have nothing to ride on as they do with Easter or Hallowe’en or Christmas, because Lent is traditionally a time of reducing down, of clearing away, downsizing – so that we can look around us with clearer eyes to see where we are.

But I notice from the readings and symbols that come with Lent that it’s first of all a time to return to what it was like in the beginning. And the symbol of that means – going back to find a ‘garden’ or ‘wilderness’ where we can get in touch with the source of energy and fecundity in ourselves. This garden or wilderness is deep in our own spirit. And it’s mirrored in the natural world all around us.

We intuitively understand about the importance of these natural wildernesses that are still with us in our world. We only have to remember the huge struggle to save the wilderness area in Tasmania from logging. The ‘Greenies’ camped in rain and freezing cold for months to protect a pristine forest, an old-growth forest.  And there are people working in stretches of bushland and wilderness all over Australia to restore the land; to free it of predators and weeds. They watch the land restore itself when this work has been done.

We know about the importance of this just as we understand the great annual camping exodus we Australians make each year. We get back to the trees and the sea as though we’re restoring ourselves from some great mother-source.

But we each carry our own inner country and sometimes this world of phones and computer screens and television, marvellous though it is, can take up too much time; stop us from making our own exodus into ‘country’ when we need to.

That is what Lent is for – a few weeks to find a small practice to do each day. Perhaps taking a few conscious breaths will take us to our inner garden.  Back to the source. Back to the beginning –

The voice of the hidden waterfall  
And the children in the apple-tree 
Not known, because not looked for …  (T.S.ELIOT. Four Quartets)

Posted by Barbara Stapleton

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