re’nder v.t. 1. Give in return (render thanks, good for evil). 2. (arch.) Give back; hand over, deliver, give up, surrender, (render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s). 3. Pay (tribute etc.), show (obedience etc.), give (assistance etc.), do (service etc.), (to). 4. Produce for inspection, submit, present, send in, (account, reason, etc.) 5. Reproduce, portray, give representation or performance or effect of, execute, translate; hence ~ING n. 6. Make, cause to be, convert into. 7. ~ (down), melt (fat) down, extract by melting, clarify. 8. Cover (stone, brick) with first coat of plaster. (The Concise Oxford English Dictionary) Fat Tuesday re’nder v.t. 1. Give in return (render thanks, good for evil). The ancient poet shouted in his hymn Test Me! You’ll find no wickedness within! What courage, striding into court demanding such a certain justice. Today, more fervently than every other day, I pray for clemency, for some delay before my trial begins. I am not prepared. My case is hollow, and although the advocate has promised me pro bono publico – I want to render something for his pains. Ash Wednesday re’nder v.t. 2. (arch.) Give back; hand over, deliver, give up, surrender, (render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s). This cell is lavish, every luxury to hand: the soft and warm, the sweet and strong, the means to satisfy all appetites. Oblivion is here, and apathy and bland content. Or if I crave indulgence of a sterner sort, there’s blame to cradle close, or bracing anger, or self-pity, or a fatal dose of piety. All told, this prison leaves me free to choose my own restraint. Today might be a feast, or fast. Today, perhaps tomorrow, I might grit my teeth and straight-backed, walk toward a wooden chair to sit and flirt with discipline. (There is a kind of mortify that quickens where it ought to quench desire.) How complicated this surrender is. First Sunday in Lent re’nder v.t. 3. Pay (tribute etc.), show (obedience etc.), give (assistance etc.), do (service etc.), (to). Dead centre of our Eden, there’s a rock whose roots reach through the core of things to anchor all, unshakeable. Upon the surface, some are nursing fires. I keep a tiny flame – a limp, pale flickering, fed with the brittle bones of infant demons plucked from my own breast and dashed against the stones. Perhaps this smoke is pleasing. Some stop to wonder at the naked ones. They kindly tap at shoulders to point out the thousand hearty furnaces nearby, then shake their heads and mutter primitive. No one denies the common sense of simple rules, the oughts and shoulds we mock with want and will. And yet no matter who we think the legislator is, we count the law as flexible and wriggle free of duty, honour, charity and all the rest. Obedience is out of date. art by Mel MaltonSecond Sunday in Lent re’nder v.t. 4. Produce for inspection, submit, present, send in, (account, reason, etc.) Our world provides a vast parade of giving up, of cutting down, of taking on or off, of setting free, or capturing and taming what is wild. So, what is it to be? A fast, perhaps, of forty days? A self-absorbent wilderness retreat? Or just a moment taken at the mirror’s edge to gaze with brutal candour at the face I see? True hunger and true thirst are paper flags that flutter out of reach above this cradle of abundance. In fat fields, fasts are commonplace, cosmetic, public, popular and plastic-wrapped. But what about a deeper kind of hunger? Here lies a modern heart’s desire – a thing that cannot be attained except by wrong, a rare and precious passion acted on, or power taken, or possession, seeming infinitely sweeter, tangible, seductive and fulfilling than a state of grace. The tempter’s face is mine. My pride’s the traitor and this task is all at once too monstrous. Third Sunday in Lent re’nder v.t. 5. Reproduce, portray, give representation or performance or effect of, execute, translate; hence ~ING n. The proper costume of the penitent is celebration. See? Here’s my shining hair and polished face. But silent, secret dances in the wilderness need all the courage of a warrior – a leather soul to bear the punishment of confrontation with a burning bush. Performing’s safer. There’s more inside the tale of Salome than matriarchal spite. What might have been a pleasant, private session with her king, was cursed by its transferral to the public stage. Her motivation to perform a pretty reel for Herod may have been well-meant and innocent, if not for all those other eyes, that regal pleasure and the ears that heard the vow. The man whose head she purchased with her sweet ballet might not have died if she had danced before her lord alone. Fourth and Fifth Sunday in Lent re’nder v.t. 6. Make, cause to be, convert into. Conversion’s transitive – there must be something done by and done to. Being made from mud began it, Being made by love confers the method, rendered human, given will and left to grow. There’s water at the start, and holy rituals of water later, then a confirmation of the deed, but sometimes even then entelechy’s a stubborn ass. There’s no reward for clawing at my ribs to tear a hole, to prove myself possessor of a heart. I need the Maker’s gentle hand for that, and it cannot be done unless I ask it. Holy Week re’nder v.t. 7. ~ (down), melt (fat) down, extract by melting, clarify. There could have been a late temptation on the bitter climb to Golgotha. By then, enough blood, surely, to appease the crowds, (although not quite the volume called for.) But by then, a gagging pain, by then a heart so close to rupture, one more stumble might pre-empt the lurking death by crucifixion. Could there possibly have been a moment when he saw his end pinned underneath that killing beam, not nailed upon it? Just a simple giving in, a sudden stop and never mind the public skewering? Like Simon, we are plucked out of the crowd to ease his suffering (or lengthen it), to bear upon our shoulders the notorious instrument. And so the danger passes, if it ever was, and we are saved by one man’s meek submission to a brutal, tortured, ugly death. Easter Day re’nder v.t. 8. Cover (stone, brick) with first coat of plaster. The ones who plastered up the big stone door did not expect the thing to move again, and yet it did. And all that rendering let go and fell in shattered flakes to kiss a white, scarred foot.