From the Team Vicar Revd Jemma
as published in Great Yarmouth Parish Life
Rev Jemma Sander-Heys
I have found February gets its name from the Latin februaris meaning purgings or purifications… from that same root also comes the word ‘fever’… it’s easier to see that in the French word for February: ‘Fevrier’
This is on my mind because, in true Medieval style, I spent much of this winter ill with ‘flu, and that had its share of fevers and chills
Now February is upon us and even if the fevers are behind us, we are indeed approaching a time of purifications as Lent begins this year on 14th February. What an interesting combination on that date! The apocryphal Saint Valentine’s day, with its focus on love and symbolism of hearts and arrows, combined with Ash Wednesday, in which we receive the sign of the cross in ashes on our heads and are reminded of our mortality: A ‘love and death’ combination worthy of any Gothic Rock song!
But not an unhelpful combination since, as we consider our own weakness, we are to remember our need for God’s love and the cost of Christ’s passion. As we begin the time of Lent and seek, through self-denial and service to others, through prayer, worship and reflection, to deepen our love of God, who already loves us so passionately. Perhaps to help us begin this Lent on the right note, we should write a ‘valentines card’ to God and let him know what he means to us?
My second favourite book, is a collection of poems from East and Western mystics, translated by a chap called Daniel Ladinsky, and called ‘Love Poems from God’ [ISBN 978-0-14-219612-0]… it is full of short reflective pieces from all sorts of holy people through the centuries who have recognized God’s love, and who love God in return. It overflows with uplifting expressions of divine love, which we could all do with reading when we are beating ourselves up about whether we are ‘good enough’… We are never ‘good enough’… but we are most certainly loved enough – and that matters more
So remember the ashes, but don’t forget Christ’s love. Here is an extract by Hafiz to help you through Lent, I suggest you seek out some more:
‘Write all that worries you on a piece of parchment; offer it to God.
Even from the distance of a millennium
I can lean the flame in my heart into your life
and turn all that frightens you into holy incense ash’
Hafiz, 14th Century
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