Overheard a comment yesterday about how old fashioned it was to give up something for Lent.
Perhaps it is but I don’t understand it. The older I get the more I see why I have to have Lent and not just the modern “add a few nice deeds to your life for a month” kind, but rather the old fashioned Lent of serious examination and struggle.
The truth is there are serious adjustments I need to make. Even a cursory review produces too long a list for a few short weeks and the truth it tells about who I am and where I need to go slices through my mirages. Dust and debris settle into my life without my notice and that does not take into account those things I willingly embrace each time I chose the temporal over the eternal.
Its a strange situation when the things I crave are so poisonous to me, so ready to tear Heaven away from me, and so much like hell even now. Adding sad to strange is that the cure lies in the acts of examination, struggle, repentance and renewal that are the heart of Lent as it developed over time and yet it is doing those very things that has become “old fashioned”. Though the cure is close at hand I choose the sickness.
It is hard to be exposed, to stand naked, to have the core of your being opened and the rot allowed to seep out. I wish there was some other way but it is not to be. Deep wounds require deep cures, it is the way of things. Yet one thing keeps me going.
When I see myself as I am I also see that the tasks of Lent, the purging of the old and moving towards the holy, is everywhere permeated with God’s love and desire for me to draw closer to Him. When I put a foot in front of the other towards God I become more alive, more whole, more human, more of everything that I was intended to be. If sin is a sweetness that covers a bitter poison then repentance is a bitterness that soon melts away to a transcending sweetness. That is where the joy lies, a joy that in some small measure can only be experienced to the extent that one truly engages Lent as it was meant to be and endures its hardships in hope.