In this, the second week of Lent and what is springtide, I read something about winter that really resonated with me:
Winter clears the landscape, however brutally, giving us a chance to see ourselves and each other more clearly, to see the very ground of our being... It is the gift of utter clarity.
It is brutal. I caught more than a glimpse of the earth that has been buried beneath snow and ice for months, and it is the ugly and honest ground of our landscape. Utter clarity, as Parker Palmer calls it, is not always pretty. But it is a gift. And I believe it prepares our souls for the life and flamboyance of spring.
The 40 days of Lent can feel like an acutely long time. But if it is a journey to the broken body and the crown of thorns, where we stand without illusion or self-delusion, then it is hardly long enough. The tides of God move contrary to our human nature, requiring a profound act of surrender to a deep skepticism of self and self-distrust — so that our confidence and trust in God might prevail.
In this season of springtide, where the ground of my being is revealed, I am deeply grateful that the character of the Master of the Universe is just that, his character. It is not an ability — the grace, mercy, and love of our Creator is not dependent on my compliance or acknowledgement. When I have reached my human capacity to love my neighbor, the Spirit of Helpfulness can move in spite of my self, because it is in his character to do so. By the same token, the love of my Creator is not dependent on my obedience. Because it will take me every bit of these 40 days to stand before the cross without illusion.
In a reflection on Lent, Edna Hong writes that there is no motivation for acts of love without a sense of gratitude, no sense of gratitude without forgiveness, no forgiveness without remorse, no remorse without a sense of guilt, no sense of guilt without a sense of wrongdoing. We are impelled to act with love and to work for justice out of gratitude for the forgiveness of our wrongs.
It is with this in mind that I pray we be given a greater sense of our brokenness, without delusion, so that we might be spurred on to acts of love.