For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid,
but gives us
– 2 Timothy 1:17
Wallace D. Wattles said that, and he was right. You know when the action you take is strong, and you know when it is weak. You can tell in your stomach. Endeavor to take no weak action whatsoever. Run away from it. Reject it. Go for the strong action, the strong choice, every time.
You know, by the way, what is meant by all of this. You have been weak in some of your choices and decisions, and you have been strong. You have been both in your life. But no more, right? Only strong from now on, yes?
And you know exactly why you received this message today.
– Neale Donald Walsh
Go with him
into the deserted places
where mind won’t survive,
deep in your wilds, exposed,
with the beasts,
feral, shifty, wise
in their wordless ways,
their primal hungers,
their devouring instincts,
into your canyons and outcroppings.
You don’t vanquish them,
and learn to survive among them,
and witness the mystery,
how they lie down beside him.
Even they know
these washes and gulches
are a palm.
In this extremity,
you find your place
among your terrors,
A lot of the daily messages I get right now are about Lent. I didn’t grow up with Lent and so I find it somewhat exotic. Over the past several years I have observed the practice and have found it so beautiful and beneficial. It is an important event, and it is a time to go deep into some tough issues. The messages I get in my daily inspirational doses are great (for the most part) and present Lent as both difficult, but joyous! Which I believe is true. We must begin to be vulnerable to our brokenness, if we want to feel our deepest joy!
It is interesting to me the contrast of when I hear people talking about Lent in everyday conversation. Like at my job, or in a restaurant. It seems a lot of people feel like Lent is about deprivation and punishment. I over hear them dreading ‘giving up’ chocolate, beer or meat and wondering if it will interfere with their entertainment schedule, or if is just too hard. Most of them seem to be dreading it. When I can, I try to insert myself into their conversation (I hope they appreciate it at some point! ha) and assure them that is not what Lent is about – we are not called to punishment! We are called to a deeper experience of life. We are called to freedom, love and joy! Life is beautiful – that is the message!
I try to encourage the people who feel this way to turn it around this year. Don’t be punished by ‘giving up’ use the 40 days to ADD something special. Write a 40 day journal and concentrate on looking for one good thing a day to be thankful and write about!
Lent is about reflection about deepening our lives in every way. Let’s try to get the message out that Jesus never wanted religion – his beautiful life and death was because of love to give us truth and freedom. He wants our love, relationship, communion, fellowship, passion. Yes, it’s all about love.
In Lent, as we fast from rich, sweet foods, we fast from our rich, sweet Alleluia. On Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras, in French) an old tradition is to use up all the fat — the milk, eggs and butter in the house (usually in pancakes). And we use up all the alleluias. A liturgical tradition for this day includes burying the alleluias,carrying a small casket out of the church and interring it, as we would for someone we love. It’s a tender moment.
Use up your alleluias today. Relish the word. Walk around singing it, saying it, praying it. Rejoice in being “shriven” —having confessed and been absolved (hence another name for today, “Shrove Tuesday”) — before you enter into a season when your freedom is still being worked out. Then tonight, bury yourAlleluias. Kiss them goodbye. Wish them well. They will go down into the darkness, into the silence, to be drowned out by the moans and the cries. Let them go. They have infinite life in them. They will arise again on Easter, having seen Hell and transfigured it, and returned, singing.
But today do not worry yourself about the dark journey to come. This is the day the Lord is creating. Let us rejoice and be glad. Alleluia!