Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Come to Me (A Reflection on Falling Down in Lent)

I have described Lent as running towards the Cross, pulling on our running shoes in exuberance, dashing forward into the promises hidden at Calvary. I have thought out loud (if you can call blogging out loud) about how good it is to run towards Him. How good weary muscles feel as they fall into His arms, resting in the light of the Cross, the Resurrection.

I tripped this Lent. More than once. I seem to get my feet under me only to go sprawling headfirst onto the pavement, skinning my knees as I skid forward, scraping up my hands and my soul, getting little bits of gravel and tar in the cuts. And I sit there, on the ground, angry and mystified about why this running thing is not working the way I thought it would.

I thought running would be elegant, a canter towards Easter. I thought running would be closeness to God. I thought it would be full of the God-flamed living, where all is gratitude, and full of joy (and maturity) and all is beautiful. Instead, I'm here, five weeks in, sitting on the pavement with skinned knees and bruised rib bones, howling at the top of my lungs.

I fell down. I am impatient for the future, or impatient for a different present, one I imagine and understand, one I control. I tripped over my untied shoelaces.
(Thank you, Mandie Sodoma)
After work today I went for a drive. At first I prayed quietly, holding the slim white coffee cup with a bleak expression on my face. And then the hot, angry tears and the two year old voice:  Oh, I'm so mad at you! I can't believe all of this! Why are you doing this to me?

But then to my surprise, the heart-question was different. I wasn't wondering, why do you keep announcing the things I don't want? I wasn't wondering, why did you let me fall down and get this scraped up soul?

Do You love me? 

That is what I wanted to know. That all of the preparing of Lent, the hard self-knowing, the moments of being Martha, and Peter, and the prodigal son, and all the rest - do You love me? 

I drove the rest of the way back to campus silent. Had I really said that? Has that, in the end, been a part of the tripping? 

We say Lent is about weakness. But when we meet our own, it suddenly becomes real, what he meant by "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Lent is not about a glamorous, beautiful run where we finish easily, shake our mane of goldeny-red hair behind our back as if we just walked around the block, and take a long drink of water {it sounds funny, but that's sort of how I pictured it}.

Lent is tripping and skinning our knees, yelling out the honesty inside us. Lent is about weakness, not the kind that we prettily acknowledge in moments of contentment (I'm not strong enough to make this decision between two beautiful and good things) but the kind we feel in the mess of heart in our ribcage, in our cracking bones, in our strained muscles. Lent is about weakness.

Hilary with her skinned knees bawls out to God: Do You love me? 

And God who is merciful to me replies, Come to Me. 

If you ever trip and fall during Lent, if you yell out honesty - have courage. 

(Photo: Mandie Sodoma)
There will yet be a sunrise.  


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