We have violet frontals etc. for Lent in both Dunoon and Rothesay churches. With smaller churches, these are it for both Advent and Lent. This is absolutely fine, quite right.
But I do love the sparseness of Lenten Array, the unbleached linen look of the plain, drab lack of colour. It can be glorified up - Durham cathedral's new frontals with gold crown of thorns et al http://durhambroderers.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/dedication-of-lenten-array.html are beautiful but could rather lack a plain, rough, sackcloth look. That is what Lent feels like, to me at any rate.
This year the altar in Dunoon is bare for Lent - this gives a slight problem in that it is ornately carved, hidden below slightly old and faded frontals. To go from bare to white and gold on Easter Day (still far away) can risk feeling like a step in a subdued direction. But more how that's being solved this year later.
The empty, harsh, slightly unforgiving nature of Lent occupies the churches for the next 40 liturgical days. The themes of wilderness, repentance, sinfulness and forgiveness (and more) will be picked out.
The ash that was imposed on some foreheads a few days ago has been washed off. The foreheads that failed to get it because of driving snow and wind have had it washed off by that weather before we ever even got there. Quite Lenten in itself, a snowy, stormy start to the season, the sparse Ash Wednesday service sparser still by failing to take place on Bute and only just scraping in there in Cowal.
So Lent begins. A long, hard journey. But one that is good to spend in good company.
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