As Lent treks forward, my initial zeal begins to wane --- badly. Just like people resolve all kinds of good and decent things at the beginning of the year (New Years' resolutions - remember them?), we all resolve to "do something" for Lent. The most sincere desires might result in more prayer, deeper meditation and study of Scripture, a more generous heart. More superficial disciplines - giving up candy or sweets or abstaining from meat on Fridays - by now are, for most people, relegated to memory.
Perhaps now is a good time for me to look at myself from the perspective of what Lent is as a season - a time of preparation for us to meditate on the death and resurrection of Christ.
In my prayer today, I sought to imagine Christ, our loving Lord, suspended on the gibbit of the cross. I am standing there looking up at him in his suffering self. How is it that he, who is one with the Creator of the Universe, has come to make himself a human like me? How is it that he has passed from a place of glory and eternal life to a life in time and space that will end just like mine - and that his end is a an end to be envied by no one - tortured, physically wracked with pain and suffering - and all to teach me that there is nothing I can do to separate myself from God's love, except, perhaps, to refuse that love. But how can you refuse such a love when it is communicated is such a way - that someone would do this for love of me.
This compels me to seek answers from my deepest self. Answers to questions like: Where is the pain in my life? What is causing it? At what point was love disrupted and some lesser thing allowed to become the center of my life? Whom have I hurt, and how did that happen? What patterns in my thoughts tend to lead to behavior that is not loving? What patterns in my behavior tend to make my wounds deeper and my life harder? Where am I not free but somehow trapped or held back or stuck in unhealthy patterns? At what points am I saying no to God’s efforts to love me?
Wow! Big questions. I don't have the answers - not yet - and maybe won't for a long time. I pray for the grace to find a healthy sense of shame and confusion before God as I consider how sin in my life, my community, and my world has worked its pain on me and on others. But this is indeed what Lent is for. I still have plenty of time to get back to the work I started to do.
-- read Romans 5:1-11