I did a bit more for Lent this year than I usually do--not a great deal by any means, but a bit more. And I found it almost too easy, and over more quickly than I expected. I do not love Lent, and agree with the priest I heard on Ash Wednesday, that it really ought to last twenty days instead of forty. It's along about the fourth week that in years past I've felt that it really ought to be about over, and that I didn't think I'd be able to maintain for another three weeks what meager discipline I had so far managed.
This year it just didn't seem to last that long. And that's in keeping with my general experience these days, which also seems to be the common experience of people getting well up in years. The past ten years, which have seen my transition from late middle to early old age, went swiftly. It's hard to believe that I've been doing this blog for ten years, and that it's been eight since my youngest child left home. From ten years old to twenty was an epoch, and from twenty to thirty an age, but from fifty-five to sixty-five an afternoon.
Also related to the relatively easy time I had with Lent is an apparent paradox of aging: although time seems to pass more quickly, I'm more patient. It's only apparent, though, and only at first glance: though it might make sense that the consciousness of how little time remains would make one less tolerant of delay, one also sees time spent waiting for something as much shorter and more bearable. At five a child in January feels a deep grief that Christmas is past and hardly understands that it will ever come again; at sixty-five one knows that it's just around the corner.
But the sixty-five-year-old doesn't feel the same intense joy as the child, either; repetition and apparent frequency dull the experience. Suppose one were immortal, and could have the old person's sense of time passing ever more swiftly, without losing the child's thrill at the approach and arrival of some longed-for event: the times between would shrink toward zero, and one might arrive eventually at a single point of ecstacy.
Could we endure it? Not as we are, no. Christ is risen: alleluia.