It's been a long hard seven months since my mother died. During this time, I have often thought that they had it right all those many years ago when they wore black for a year and were advised not to make any decisions or do anything constructive for a year. I have made bad decisions, forgotten many important things, lost things and been morbidly confused at times.
Don't worry, I am not inviting you to a pity party. Instead I want to encourage us to think about grief and Lent and what they have in common. Grief is not something we get over; it is something we work through, and in that process we are never the same when we come out the other side. Likewise, Lent is not something we get over! Lent is a journey through the desert with Jesus; it is a time when we must walk the path of temptations and in the resistance be reminded of the sacrifice and the Love of God in the person of Jesus the Christ. And we are never the same when we finish the journey.
Maybe that's a stretch for you...but at this point the analogy of the splinters of grief to the journey of Lent resonates for me. In grief we are constantly dealing with the pain of the memories, similar to little splinters. It takes soaking and patience to get rid of them. But once the sliver of wood is gone, the new skin grows over it and healing is complete.
On this first Friday in Lent, I am taking baby steps as I resist those things which have distracted me from having a heart for God, from walking with Jesus, from being healed.
As my friend, priest, theologian and beloved human being Bob Dannals said in his meditation this morning...
During the coming weeks we will not so much hear about a penal God who wants to punish us in our sin, but one who wants to come alongside of us as a physician, diagnose us as needing mercy, and begin the restorative process of healing. Sometimes it hurts! But in the end, we receive a life of renewed mobility and original intention.
Let our physician God
in the second person of the Trinity, Jesus the Redeemer, walk beside us during this Lent, diagnosing our need for mercy and beginning the "restorative process of healing" both of our grief and of our hearts and souls. Though there will always be a little scar from the splinter of grief, I pray that the process of walking hand in hand with Jesus through this Lenten desert will restore us so that at the great Easter celebration we will say "Alleluia" again, and it will come with a great sigh of loving relief. And I pray that we will celebrate a "life of renewed mobility and original intention" from that time forward.
But the splinter must be soaked out first. Prayers for us to find the healing soaking waters of the Holy Spirit as we journey forward.