Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Ash Wednesday

lent snuck up on me this year. I'm not prepared. This is always a profound season for me, but it's one that I rarely enjoy in the process. This is a season of repentance and atonement. This is a season to examine our lives for what interferes in our primary mission as Christians, serving God. As a time of preparation and a withdrawal from the surface to the depths of our relationship with God, you'd think that Lent would be right up my alley. A time to plan? To lay level the ground? A time to look inside? For an INFJ like me, this is almost a party.

That's the catch. This isn't about me. This should be about the emptying of me, of truly making myself a vessel for the grace and will of our great Creator. In Women Who Run With Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola-Estes writes about letting die what must die. That description sums up so much of what draws me to God through Christ. From death and burial spring a tremendous, new life which goes to richer levels than could be imagined in our previous lives. I've seen this cycle played out again and again in my own lifetime. I cannot even recall some of what has been buried. I don't mourn the passings and losses now, yet I know I did so at the time. I know some of these deaths have been excruciatingly painful. As with all deaths though, what was left was dust.

I am built to crave rebirth, to hunger for it like a long anticipated and long delayed meal. I never know what is being born until I see the beauty of it cradled in my life. I love it then, but as with all things, it will grow and mature. In this resurrection, I can find new growth or I can waste it and let it sour and produce no viable seed. Either way, it too will come to its time to die, and losing what I've loved will inevitably hurt. This is the danger for me. Lent requires me to have the courage to let die what needs to die.

The passion of Christ is such a centerpiece of Christianity that my rebellious, must be different spirit has probably not given it the attention it deserves. Though I'm frequently disappointed when I see representations of the Passion (whether it's a local church production with a serene Jesus whose humanity was so suppressed by divinity, he didn't reflect suffering or the violence enamored movie from Mel Gibson), I haven't really delved into it myself. I haven't let my own vision, the personal inspiration from death and burial that God wants me to have develop. In fact, part of me cringes at the thought of heavy wood, brutal nails, whips, thorns, swords and blood. After all, this is merely the prologue, n'est-ce pas? The meat of the matter is the resurrection.

However, you still have to die first, and I just found out tonight that this Lenten season is calling me to stare unflinchingly at death -- both the literal ones and the figurative ones that are the genomes of the spiral of our spiritual growth. Looking at my life now, I also can't help but wonder what the next little death will be for me. There are so many options. I see the process beginning in several aspects of my life already. Part of me is anticipating the next resurrection, secure in its promise. Part of me is afraid of losing what I'm not yet ready to lose. Though I'll be doing so deep in faith and hope, I'll still be facing fear, possibly even horror and loss.

If I allow this to happen, I truly become a vessel, a conduit if you prefer, for something glorious. I want that, but struggle remains. In one of those unexplainable Christian ironies, the "zen coans" we often don't want to admit exist within our religion, I must receive grace to be able to receive grace.

Armed with only truth as I understand it, light as it is revealed, the way as it unfolds before me, my spirit is ready to go on to the graveyard. If you feel so inclined, remember me in your prayers.

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Blogger Gannet Girl said...

This is a lovely meditation, Cynthia.

February 23, 2007 6:32 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

You really ought to consider a writing career, Cynthia. You're very good at it.

As for me and Lent, well, I've never celebrated it. My Lutheran buddy gives up something for a few weeks (for her, it's reading romantic novels) but I've never done it. Maybe I should.

February 23, 2007 7:15 AM  
Blogger ab said...

I hope your next loss is a long time in coming. This was a great read. Thank you. I noted in a recent entry that "without death, there is no life". Yet, we still fear it. Maybe nothing more glorious or sad.

February 24, 2007 11:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


February 28, 2007 11:11 PM  

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