Last night was very cold and miserable. I went down to the church around 9pm for a few minutes and passed the astroturf pitch beside my house. There was a game in progress. Oblivious to the unpleasant weather, young men from the locality played a game of football as intense as any. Oblivious too, to their sole observer, I was in awe of their dedication and enthusiasm. Far from the corporate box, I stood alone on the road, rain falling around me and watched and listened as they urged each other to victory, rejoiced in the scored goal, lamented the one that just went wide of the post or questioned the one that went over the side line “our ball”! I left them to it.
A few months ago, shortly after the pitch came into use, I met a man from the parish. I’d say he’s well into his thirties now. He asked me what I thought of the pitch and I said I liked it very much and that I was happy to see it being used so much. I knew he was one of the ones that used it. Indeed he was one of the “stars” last night. “There’s only one thing wrong with it”, he said. I couldn’t imagine what that might be so I asked. “I wish I was fifteen again”, he smiled! I knew what he meant. He’d love to have had that facility in the parish during his teenage years.
That’s where I think we start Lent 2016. Is there a place or time we need to go back to? A time we might wish for when things were different, perhaps even better? That’s where we go today, in the quietness of heart and with Spirit renewed to reclaim what we might have lost and live again the fullness of our Faith potential.
The ashes will fade but the mark and promise of the Cross remains.