A rainy Laetare Sunday: a reminder that Lent is quietly slipping by. There is a beauty to coming this far in the “full forty” as well as a gentle invitation to the become more conscious of the sacred in so secular a world. But how?
That path is as unique as each individual: no route or method is guaranteed, and it is all about the journey itself. It s a judgment free zone that encourages exploration, pursues healing and wholeness and accepts the reality of who we are as humans. Simultanenously flawed and gifted, each of us stands on a the threshold of a new path every morning. Morning offers that chance of another beginning, an opening to make different choices, to look at old options in a new way, to see strength in what we have done and purpose in what we will choose.
The story of the Prodigal Son is paired with Laetare Sunday. It is a classic parable, a story line that defies settings or centuries. A father awards one son his inheritance while the other son stays at his side to work. The first fritters away his fortune in what sounds like debauchery while the other devotes himself to the labor of living. When the first reappears and seeks some form of support, he is welcomed by the father. The second is infuriated for the acceptance seems a reward that somehow belittles the virtue of his own choices. The father’s magnanimous welcome seems almost incomprehensible.
In so many ways, that story is about choices and paths and choosing how to live. It is about admitting mistakes and examining motiviations, naming attitudes and nailing communication. It is about the power of family, the ability to forgive and the reality that life demands suffering beyond imagination. It is about the agency that every person exercises and a reminder that we exist in familial and cultural enclaves even though we all belong to humanity itself. If allowed, the parable of the Prodigal Son becomes an invitation to consider and reflect on the choices we are making and have made and will make.
Will we dare to reconsider, to wonder what our lives are really all about? Will we wonder about the sacred? Breath in both the hard crisp edges of nature and its softer, enticing beauties? Find the inner strength of quiet in a Buddhist garden? Be brave enough to re-read Bible verses? Reconsider the concept of Providence or diety? Find a group of like-minded people to share with? Will we dare to perceive similarities rather than differences in the human family? Can we excuse, forgive, support one another? Can we hear the whisper of the Divine and dare to confide that to one another? Will we allow the concept of a generous, forgiving God in the seriousness of this technological society? In a world of virtual reality, can we entertain the idea of something or someone that transcends reality? Can we open to the possibity of a God? Or find comfort in a tradition or ritual? Can we move towards spiritual homes?
In the end, Laetare Sunday is a milepost, not a destination. Maybe it is something of a resting place to consider next steps and moments. The really “good news” about Laetare Sunday is not that we are half-way done, but that we have begun. And so the Lenten journey continues.