The season of Lent began yesterday, and I didn't attend Ash Wednesday services because I was on a family ski trip. But I don't feel too bad about that, because I got stuck on a very steep run that I shouldn't have attempted that late in the day, and it kind of felt like the imposition of ashes. There was a lot of falling down and prayer and repentance going on. I felt duly chastened. Anyway, as we were packing to go home and watching the Olympics on TV, I had a few more thoughts on Lent. Note: this isn't intended to be a theological treatise, so please don't read it that way!

After the fat and
fun comes Lent: prayer, penitence
and self-denial,
which, today (even to those
who believe), can sound
like words in a foreign tongue
or concepts from a
galaxy far, far away.

Watching the winter
Olympics, I remember
that discipline and
preparation are what lie
behind all of that
beauty, the flashing blades and
flying boards and arms
raised in victory. And that
the point of Lent is
preparation, a kind of
athlete’s training for
the soul, except that
there’s no contest at the end,
no first, second and
third place medals, but rather
the joyful celebration
of Easter and its
empty podium.