Today we begin the long journey of Lent. With fasting, prayer, almsgiving, the placing of ashes on our foreheads and confession, we begin the walk with Jesus through the wilderness. It is a time of self-reflection and a time of corporate confession. It is a time that we remember not only that we are dust, but that we are also intimately connected to one another and to the Divine.
I have been searching for just the right words to start us on this journey together, and have come up short. What can I possibly tell you that’s new or unique about Lent? To tell you to give up chocolate or facebook or red meat...trivializes the importance of this most holy season.
So I thought I would share a poem that I found that calls to mind the interconnectedness that we share, our responsibility to one another, and perhaps might inspire your journey through the wilderness. This is from Sister Elizabeth Smoyer, a nun with the Sisters of Notre Dame:
Everybody, stop everything!
Let our tomb-like hearts and systems
be broken open
in lament and compassion.
We weep as we see the bondage
of our cut-off-ness
from the suffering, invisibility and aching of
those marginalized by our busyness:
the hungry of body and spirit,
the immigrants, the refugees, the trafficked,
and the fracked/de-forested/trash-heaped soil, oceans and rivers
of our earth.
All these peoples and places made poor
by systems of race, economics,
or our refusal to look.
We admit our greed and indifference
“the Lord was stirred
to concern for his land
and took pity on his people.”
We allow grace to change us
in this chaotic and painful time.
For this time, we believe, is “very acceptable,”
a time rooted in the generative love that connects all.
We sense a wide and deep conscious connection
under and through
our small ego - size slice of “reality.”
We respond by
creating space in our hearts,
minds and choices:
praying, fasting, giving alms
in ways hidden from others’
approval and recognition.
We step into the mercy that holds all.
I don't know what the future of the church is, but I know that we will continue to be a place of sanctuary and hope, working towards healing in the world.