Sunday, February 27, 2011

Forgiving (and all God's people say... I'll try)

Lent is soon, soon approaching. It will round the corner of our week before we know it, before we can blink. It will appear snow-dusted here in New England, rustling the trees with the noise of preparation. In England I imagine the sky will look big and the beach in Devon that we always go to, that we always find, will be breathtaking.

Lent is rich with preparing. And this morning, when I woke up, a full hour later than intended, head still spinning with the hours of hours of homework left in front of me - I realized that I want to spend some time preparing for the time of preparation. So often I think, "Well, when Lent begins I'll..." and then scribble various possible answers in crayon, marker, slick black ink - I will rest on the Sabbath, I will give up makeup, I will read books not for school as well as books for school. I whisper my promises to myself over and over in the hushed light of Sunday morning snowy breezes and this morning I heard something whistle back through the silence and the clack of my keyboard.

Lent is about forgiveness.

Uh-oh. About forgiveness? About forgiveness, Lord? Do you mean, perhaps, me accepting forgiveness back from You? Or me learning to forgive myself for the multitudes upon multitudes of failures heaped all over the place this past week?

No, I'm afraid, as the thoughts float wearily in front of me, my coffee-soaked mind constantly questioning how and where and when and why I need to forgive. 

I need to forgive because He tells me to. I don't want to, most days. Most days I would like to nestle the hurts and griefs and small sadnesses in cardboard boxes and store them in my heart, labelled by name or by season, by type or by color. In fact, friends, I do this. My heart is littered with unmended things, words spoken and looks given that have never been erased from my catalogue. My heart is full of things that I keep broken, keep returning to as if the memory is a trophy of wounded. 

This is not how to live in love. This is not how to live forgiveness. This is not how to prepare my heart for the Resurrection. 

But He tells me the hard truth: forgive.  For it is written, "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." (1 Corinthians 13.4-7). 

Love keeps no record of wrongs. I have a list a mile long, a list of words that were wrong, silences that were wrong, ideas that were wrong. 

What if this Lent I threw away the list? The list that we all keep, the histories of injuries and wounds, the stories of what this person did or said or forgot about? 

And instead... what if, this Lent, amid the lack of makeup and the presence of Sabbath, the burning cleansing fire of Love and the song of rejoicing, I wrote another kind of list
(Photo Credit: Clare Stanton, June 2006)

1. Thank You that the wind is strong today and whistles through the trees.
2. Thank You that I got to go to Dunkin' Donuts with Dad and talk about Kuyper. 
3. Thank You for 2 hours with Emily and the pure joy of loving good books.
4. Thank You for patience with me as I forget and relearn and forget again the story of Your love. 
5. Thank You for Kraemer Books.
6. Thank You for the question, "Who are you?"
7. Thank You for daffodils blooming
8. Thank You for Lillie's music
9. Thank You for the hush of prayer. 
10. Thank You for the season of Lent.

I will try this Lent to erase the list, the one I harbor safe and deep, the one that hinders me from loving fully and carefully and joyfully and well - and instead, to sing out Love. 

Join me? 


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