As I write, I am surrounded on all sides by the Atlantic Ocean – a mysterious, wondrous, marvelous expanse of sun dappled, white capped, black/blue ink-like liquid. What I see is the surface; but what I experience is the unfathomable depth, the surge of life, the potential power and the immense-ness of it. I experience the little-ness of me. I experience my own vulnerability. I remember the thousands and thousands of men, women and children mercilessly hurled about by the recent Tsunami. Still, I am thrilled by the magnificence of this now gentle giant.
Advent and Christmas seasons flow effortlessly into the Lenten season. It has taken me decades to come to grips with Lent. I never felt I did Lent correctly. My intentions were honest, but Easter Morning was never what I thought it should be. I never understood that Lent is meant to be a joyous season celebrated in intimacy with my Beloved.
I come to Lent with the graces of Advent and Christmas – and I am encouraged to call upon those graces, to savor them, to activate them. I have come from the infant Jesus, arms outstretched, begging to be enfolded, nurtured and loved – by me. A Jesus dependent and vulnerable and me so eager, but hesitant, maybe even afraid to approach the infant and enter into the mystery and the intimacy. However, I have entered into this holy relationship, no matter how tentatively. We have begun a relationship – committed each to the other. The Beloved and me.
Ash Wednesday and I am reminded that I am “dust.” I am again reminded of my vulnerability. This reminder is not to distance me, but to bring me again into the outstretched arms of the crucified Jesus. To know my vulnerability is a gift, a strength. In my weakness, I am gently but urgently invited to be with Jesus in his time of temptation and need. I am invited to turn from my own weakness to strength, from darkness to light. This reminder/invitation is a call to true humility and to a deeper intimacy. An unfathomable relationship. Supported by the Christmas graces, I may be able to take a more honest look at who I am in relationship with Jesus – and then to give up, to fast from that which is harmful to this holy relationship. My Beloved invites me to pray, fast and to give as is best for Our unique relationship. This gentle, tender invitation is powerful potential, life giving and I am again overwhelmed by the immense-ness of it all.
What is it that will enrich and mature Our relationship? Am I invited to fast? from what? eating, drinking, gossip, certain people, places, or things, maybe even the daily newspaper, or TV? Possibly I am called to something –reading, art, music, dance, rest, silence? How am I invited to give? money, time, service? How am I being invited to pray? in community, with family, privately, silence, art, music, writing, nature? The outstretched arms of the infant Jesus will become the outstretched arms of the crucified Christ continuing to invite me closer and closer in Love. Easter Morning is the celebration of our unique intimacy.
“If today I hear the voice of my Beloved, let me not harden my heart.”
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