Sunday, March 13, 2011

Some thoughts on Lent

The Lenten season started at my church today ... although of course it started earlier this past week, with Ash Wednesday. This season is time to reflect ...

While some see Lent as a time of confession and atonement, debasing one's sinful self in preparation for the Hope and Light of Easter morning ... and I myself definitely see in it an opportunity for self-reflection ... I think it is more than that. I think while it is a time to look at that which is difficult and dark - about ourselves, about those around us, about the world - it is also a time for acceptance, for making peace, dare I say, for forgiveness. This is the tack my church is taking on this Lenten season, and I think it is a vital one - especially given how deeply misunderstood the concept of 'forgiveness' and 'atonement' can be in some Christian circles. The fact is - we are imperfect people living in an imperfect world. Conflict will arise, forgiveness is more than simply a virtue, it is necessary. And beyond interpersonal conflict, there will always be 'darkness' and 'difficulty' in the world in which we live - this is a fact with which we must make peace, in order to truly understand Jesus' Easter message.

Does this mean we must accept all injustice? Be a doormat because we have been taught to 'forgive'? No! In fact, sometimes forgiving means letting go of painful relationships in order to allow both yourself and your (not-so?)-loved-one be your best selves without one another. But it does mean not carrying around bitterness or anger or hurt ... allowing yourself to move on, to accept what has happened even if you don't accept it continuing; to be OK and forgive, even if you don't forget - forgetting is a disservice in a life in which learning experiences shape all of our next steps.

In the bigger picture, we saw a horrific example of just how dark a place the world can be on Friday, with the 9.0 earthquake which has absolutely devastated Japan. While compassion and prayer are great beginnings - should we misunderstand 'accepting' and 'making peace' as saying 'these things happen' before moving on with our own lives? Not in the slightest. It does mean accepting it has happened - and it means making peace with that fact, as human beings, means doing what we can to help out. If we cannot help - which sometimes we can't - accepting that is key. But personally, where I CAN help, I seldom find peace with not doing so.

What is YOUR way to Lenten peace, acceptance, and forgiveness? I know I am seeking my own ... will you join me?

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