It is that time of year again...when we are invited to remember, reflect, repent, and reenter His suffering for all.
Though my childhood and teens included embracing the Lenten season, I left this spiritual practice behind for decades only to pick it back up in my late 50's. I only now can see through the burnt palm branch ashes on the forehead and solemnity of the season. I now can say that I appreciate the invitation to reflect on the spiritual significance of the season precluding the holiest holiday of the Church, known as Easter.
I want to shed light on the sacredness of this season. The subject of death gives way to surrender, emptying and vulnerability. Yet, these words conjure up dark feelings of anger, depression, and sadness. Stay with me as Jesus demonstrated this embracing of dying like no other. His willingness to let go of His attachments and certainties for whom held Him, and knew the end from the beginning. Richard Rohr said it so well in his book, Divine Dance, "Jesus is the suffering and dying of God visible to us all".
So often I am put off or repulsed by the suffering God requires in His own. Everything in me strives for what appears to be strong, well, fit, vibrant, growing, and thriving. Is this not the way of nature? Yes, but these virtues do not precede dying. Dying...death...precedes life.
Oh, how I lighten up and glow with the subject of life. Everyone wants to live a full life, I do. Everyone smiles with glee at the birth of a new baby and shudders at the news of the impending death of a loved one. Yet, death and dying are an important aspect of LIFE.
As I walk the journey as a Christ follower I discover the way of the Master is often contrary to the ways of my society and spiritual culture. He was willing to do things His Father's way that often included appearing weak, emptying himself, lacking, and poor...spiritually. I find this spirituality of dying to my wants and needs dauntingly frustrating.
It was Jesus who explained in the biblical agrarian parable that for a harvest to come forth there has to first be death and dying of what is planted. The seed must be planted in the ground and then die, or it remains just a seed. The question bears being asked of me, "Am I willing to die when necessary for new growth and new life to be demonstrated in me personally?" I can say that I never feel ready. I am dependant on the grace and mercy of God to help me utilize my will to surrender and empty myself...for kingdom purposes, not my plans, purposes, and ways of doing life.
"Thank you loving Father for your foresight, wisdom, and knowledge of all things needing to die in me, so that life may be birthed in me for your living Presence to be seen through me."
For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. ~ 1 Corinthians 1:25 (NIV)