Easter is a moveable feast. Unlike Christmas, which is always Dec 25 or All Saints Day which is always November 1, Easter’s date is determined by the moon. Specifically, it is the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox. This year, Spring Equinox was on the same day as a full moon. But you can’t double dip. So we had to wait a full moon cycle after March 21 for the next full moon. Which is April 19th.And then the first Sunday after that is April 21. Easter. Why am I telling you this? So now you know. And knowing is half the battle.
Since Easter is pretty late, it means Lent started late. Lent is the season of 40 days leading up to Easter. The first day of Lent is Ash Wednesday which was the first Wednesday of Special Programs. This was the first time in probably 20 years I didn’t observe Ash Wednesday with my own community. Fr. Weymouth and I went to a Catholic church for ashes in Lowell.
And then we were away. So here we are now, gathering two weeks before Holy Week and Easter, without having even gathered once during Lent. “Lent. Wait. What’s Lent?”
So in that first reading you heard the story of Jesus in the desert fasting and overcoming temptation for 40 days in the desert. As a way to remember this part of Jesus’ journey some Christians like to reenact it in spiritual preparation for the celebration of Easter. We call that the 40 days of Lent. And the re-enactment involves a type of fast. Maybe we give up something important or we take on something important. And in the process of daily doing what’s hard, we learn about ourselves. We come face to face with our own true character. And hopefully the character of God, who loves us always.
In the second reading you heard about not being public with your piety. Which is why it’s always ironic that this admonition is always followed at the Ash Wednesday service with a cross of black ashes imposed on your face, the most public part of you. Perhaps I digress, but this is to say, I tread lightly on the territory of talking about my spiritual Lenten discipline, but I’d like to share a bit about it publicly.
What did I do? For the first time in 13 years, I am off of Facebook and Twitter. I deleted them off of my phone. I may not put them back. When I go back to check-in, I may make them available only on my laptop, so I limit my time, so I don’t get caught in the trap of constantly checking and posting. The first few days without it, I realized how often I was looking for it. After a few weeks I have already adjusted. Now I only share intentionally and directly with those friends and family with whom I have close relationships. I’m texting and calling more. I’m reading more. I’m exercising more. I have been reminded again about the difference between online and interpersonal relationships..... all the nuanced forms of listening and communication that go unspoken and therefore make online communication a challenge.
I wonder if there are things you gave up for Lent. Lent. Wait. What’s Lent? I you are observing Lent, I wonder what you’re learning.
I’m also up for the possibility that you haven’t set your sights on Lent because religion isn’t a part of your life outside of school. That’s OK.
We’re four weeks late, but we’re better late than never. I‘d like to extend an invitation to a two week Lenten journey where you may choose to abstain from or to practice something new in your life. I also want you to know we will be making an effort to observe Holy Week here at Holderness. There will be opportunities to walk the last days of Jesus together on Maundy Thursday, an optional lunchtime service on good Friday, a Great Vigil of Easter on Saturday evening, A morning hike with the Eucharist on Rattlesnake Mountain on Sunday, and for anybody who slipped to the cracks, Outdoor Chapel on Monday celebrating Easter and Earth Day. That’s six consecutive days. Holy Week, Batman.
You don’t have to be a Christian to take time to focus on your ultimate concerns and examine the way your priorities shape your living. I invite you to a holy two weeks of Lent.
Upcoming Chapel Events:
Wednesday Tenebrae (optional) 10 PM in Chapel
Maundy Thursday 6:15 PM in Chapel
Good Friday (optional) 1-1:30 PM in Chapel
Great Vigil of Easter Saturday (optional) 5:00 PM-6:00 PM in Chapel
Easter Sunday Holy Eucharist on Rattlesnake (optional) meet at Weld @8:30 AM, return for brunch.
Monday -- All School Easter Eucharist in Outdoor Chapel. 8:30 AM
Albert Bierstadt, the German-American painter renowned for his landscapes of the American West, came to the White Mountains to capture its simple yet overwhelming beauty. What came to life through nearly a decade’s worth of work was The Emerald Pool, a massive oil-on-canvas monument to the natural majesty of a hidden swimming hole along the Peabody River in the Pinkham Notch. Recounting The Emerald Pool, Bierstadt said, “I never had so difficult a picture to paint, as this White Mountain subject the Emerald Pool; my artist friends think it my best picture and so do I.”
At Holderness we deliberately build community through the people we bring in and programs we support. Today I want to share one story about people who showed us what it means to be a mission-centered community and talk about one unique program that is hitting a milestone.
Kicking off its 141st year, Holderness School welcomed new students to campus on September 5th. Under blue skies and surrounded by the cheers of joyful Senior Leaders, 114 new students eagerly joined the Holderness School community. The day was filled with smiles as new students and families unpacked their cars and turned dorm rooms into a home away from home.