As time goes by and the fire of the first week of Lent gradually dies out, things concerning our life in the world regain their strength and take over our days once again, while things concerning our life in Christ become increasingly less clear and muddy. It’s like a dark cloud which has showed up of nowhere and has covered something that was – for that one glorious week – so very obvious and precious to our hearts.
For me, the first week of Lent is so utterly abnormal, so completely out of this world, as if another form of life has taken over the planet and it has imposed its own rhythm and laws and values. My usual sense of time is replaced by the time of this alien world; my perception of my own physical needs – food, sleep, tiredness – adjusts itself to the different criteria of this alien life.
I abandon myself to this new life, and I feel almost enslaved by this new world. I lose control over my life and my habits; my small comforts disappear; the poles of my life – those things that identify time as MY time, MY life – are taken down. When one fully sinks into the first week of Lent, one abandons everything and joins in this new life.
It’s as if an alien aircraft has landed and we all just decided to drop our lives and embark this flying object, letting it take us wherever it goes, because we have faith that its final destination is the Resurrection. This fire is easier for me to accept than the slow burn of the following weeks. This sort of open madness makes more sense to me than having to intertwine my usual life and the life on this alien flying object.
After the first week of Lent, things get gradually diluted, my ability to hold on to the wonderfully strange new world of the first week dies out and I risk to end up compromising. And compromise is just a beautiful word for betrayal.