{March 14, 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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