Psalms 50:5-6, 7-8, 14, 23
For thousands of years philosophy has sought to articulate the experience of enlightenment. Plato himself provides a story of a group of people trapped within the confines of ignorance. His "Allegory of the Cave" articulates a process wherein a particular individual of the group is challenged to move beyond a place of comfort toward insight greater than ever imagined. Such a process changes this person's life forever. Shadows cast upon a wall once represented the truth and reality of things for this cave-dweller. Now a sun-dazzled world outside of the cave and beyond its shadows -- majestic trees, sparkling rivers, soaring birds -- gives him a crisp, vibrant picture of the way things exist. Imagine the difference between those shadows and the sun-illumined nature-scape! What a great discovery! Plato doesn't end here, however, but speaks a mission: Go back! Return! Share what you have received! Plato is reticent to let the rest of the group remain trapped by the confines of ignorance.
We're on the verge of Lent, a great season within our Church where we experience an acute dependence upon our God. We'll follow Jesus' departure from full, busy days of conversation and travel to a place of quiet-retreat. Jesus embraces a desert-solitude. We see him struggle, but we also see him grow more aware of himself and his special mission.
The readings are helpful for our lives today as well as for the season of Lent. Together they ask us to be aware of our gifts and talents, to know that God has graced our lives in ways gentle, yet dramatic, and that such graces come with purpose. No, the readings aren't this explicit. But they well acknowledge that God provides so much for each and everyone of us. We are the recipients of his greatness. And this is not negotiable! Our lives, radically varied and wildly diverse, bespeak talents and gifts ranging even more widely! But we're left in that same precarious position as the enlightened one of Plato's allegory: Go back! Return! Share what you have received!
Perhaps today is a good day for that: a day for others, a day to
place our needs and our desires aside as we expend the unique marvels of
our own particular lives upon others close at hand. And if we're
confused about our gifts and talents - blinded possibly by shadows of doubt
and denial - then perhaps Lent might be a process of enlightenment, discovering
the God-gifted glory of our lives in a way that is crisp and vibrant.
What a great discovery!
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