Dear Followers of Jesus,
Our hearts easily become restless. On some days, our hearts have a mind of their own. We become distant from our true loves, estranged from our commitments, second-guessing our vows and full of blame and anger toward the world that hurts so much. When our hearts become as strangers to us, we call this place an inner desert.
This is the wasteland that Jesus entered into to begin the Lenten journey. His forty-day survival guide suggests to us that we overcome temptations, rely on the Holy Spirit and repent of our past wrongs and sins and more solidly stand on a new ground of faith. This ground is not the shifting sand of complacency, the hot desert of sinful assertions or the rocky road to injustice. This true ground of our redemption lies in the life of Jesus touching our inner lives where our hearts meet daily life.
Lent is a trap. We might think that if we give up something God will enjoy us more. Don’t live in such a blank wilderness. Lent does not flourish because we may give up chocolate. The terrain of Lent is our entry into the deep patterns of our hearts where we know that lust possessions our attentions, where hatred and insecurity becomes a home in us, where prejudice and sin toward our neighbors is the path we have been following. Lent is a time in which we break open old patterns of hate, infidelity and harsh judgments toward people.
Lent means, “springtime.” Lent is a time in which we follow the path of Jesus more intentionally. Lent is a time of self reflection, which is such a stranger to so many people. Lent is a time of deeper prayer and reliance on God. Lent is a time in which we live the Paschal Mystery more completely. This means that we actually live the pattern of Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection.
Lent is a time we face the darkness of our doubt so we can learn to live in the Light of Christ. We face the facts in Lent that we struggle to love our children or the people who migrate to our nation. We let go in Lent our sense of entitlement, thinking that we deserve more than other people who struggle to make ends meet. We learn something in Lent about what unhealthy power is and learn how to lift up powerless people in our world. We feed, love, support and lift up because Jesus broke bread, washed feet and dismissed the devil. Lent is a movement toward profound compassion and hope. Lent, after all, is a journey in and through love.
Here are some questions to consider this week:
What are the inner deserts you face this year in Lent? Grief? Loss? Hopelessness?
What are the ways God may be calling you to trust more or love more wonderfully in Lent?
As you examine your life, how do you see the emerging patterns of Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection?
Blessings to you,