As some may be surprised to learn, Ash Wednesday is not the beginning of Lent, but only the beginning of the lenten fast. . .The dramatic, medieval rites of Ash Wednesday may perhaps make a stronger and more immediate appeal to our feelings. The Mass of the first Sunday however leads us deeper into the real mystery of Lent, uniting us more profoundly and more directly with [Christ.]
art by Cindy Lowy
Why is it so dark in here?" Meg asked. She tried to look around, but all she could see was shadows. Nevertheless there was a sense of openness, a feel of a gentle breeze moving lightly about, that kept the darkness from being oppressive.
Perplexity came to her from the beast. "What is this dark? What is this light? We do not understand. Your father and the boy, Calvin, have asked this, too. They say that it is night now on our planet and that they cannot see. They have told us that our atmosphere is what they call opaque, so that the stars are not visible, and then they were surprised that we know stars, that we know their music and the movements of their dance far better than beings like you who spend hours studying them through what you call telescopes. We do not understand what this means, to see."
"Well, it's what things look like," Meg said helplessly.
"We do not know what things look like, as you say," the beast said. "We know what things are like. It must be a very limiting thing, this seeing."
"Oh, no!" Meg cried. It's--it's the most wonderful thing in the world!"
"What a very strange world yours must be!" the beast said, "that such a peculiar-seeming thing should be of such importance. Try to tell me, what is this thing called light that you are able to do so little without?"
"Well, we can't see without it," Meg said, realizing that she was completely unable to explain vision and light and dark. How can you explain sight on a world where no one has ever seen and where there is no need of eyes? "Well, on this planet," she fumbled, "you have a sun, don't you?"
"A most wonderful sun, from which comes our warmth, and the rays which give us our flowers, our food, our music and all the things which make life and growth."
"Well," Meg said, "when we are turned toward the sun--our earth, our planet, I mean, toward our sun--we receive its light. And when we're turned away from it, it is night. And if we want to see we have to use artificial lights."
"Artificial lights," the beast sighed. "How very complicated life on your planet must be. Later on you must try to explain some more to me."
"All right," Meg promised, and yet she knew that to try to explain anything that could be seen with the eyes would be impossible, because the beasts in some way saw, knew, understood, far more completely than she, or her parents, or Calvin, or even Charles Wallace.
Madeleine L'Engle, A Wrinkle in Time