Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Walk into the Desert

Today is Ash Wednesday. Liturgically, it's the anniversary of my father's death.  The actual date is two weeks away, but nothing quite reminds one of the reality of ashes like the reality of an anniversary of a parent's death.  It doesn't feel like so much time has passed.

The past few weeks, I've lost my computer.  As a result, I've not quite known what to do with myself. My writing lay fallow more than I'd like and come this week, I felt apprehension as Lent approached. I didn't have some grand inspiration for the day or the 40 days.  Normally, I have big plans.  I'll do 40 bags in 40 days! I'll go to daily mass!  I'll well, I'll do something big, important, holy.   It's a zeal and enthusiasm I have naturally, but it is often without actual correct orientation.   "Martha"-ing Lent is not the way to go.   But it took 40 or so years of mucking up Lent to get to this recognition.

That recognition came with the other hard point, a personal revelation about my own tendency to do the same thing to Lent in everything else I do, to focus on the flash and sparkle and newness of whatever, rather than the reality of the work to be done.  It allows me to flit upon the surface of things, relationships (my friendships suffer from this), and the home (man does it suffer from my cursory keeping), and my writing --which is fire and forget and seldom edited more than once.  It's perfect for blogging style, but not for writing anything with weight or length.

It's an ugly and unsettling thing to recognize, you've spent the last 40 years wandering, still not getting it. I've churned through rosaries, read a daily devotional, done any number of things seeking holiness, without necessarily beginning where Lent demands we begin, with my own faults, my own faults, my own grievous faults.  The temptation for me, and I'm sure for many, is to say, I'm not so bad...and list all those devotions, all those ways in which I've sought to live out an authentic life of faith.  But all of those good things, as good as they are, do not change the fact, that even alone, I require my God to do this:

I cannot begin to fathom the ugliness.   I only know Ash Wednesday requires I recognize my own dullness of spirit, and my own inability to "Get or Do Lent" correctly. I can't get an A or a gold star.  I can either grow in faith, or grow duller. That's it.  That's all.

The goal is to grow in holiness, to free ourselves at least in part from addictions, and to recognize however far we've come, we're not there.  We're supposed to wind up at the foot of the cross by the end of this journey, to know we have crucified Him. We called for His crucifixion.  We betrayed Him. We denied Him.  What did He want us to do?  Love Him.

Have a Blessed Ash Wednesday. Pray. Fast. Give Alms, and do it all with a smile and grateful heart.
Walk into the desert, and know when you do, you will find the one who loves you this much.


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