Within the practices of Lent– the ashes, the fasting, the reflection– there rests the reality of Resurrection. The “full forty” of Lent stretches through spring: it is about rebirth at every age. And it repeats, every year, the truth that living Christianity as flesh and blood human beings with emotions, preferences, needs, and wants is an incredible challenge. Lent is a reminder to be aware of who we are and how we can be better as humans who are being in this world. It is also a reminder that ultimately, as a Resurrection people, there is joy in to be found, relished and shared in this life.
Resurrection has been captured in the artwork of gret masters and in the verbiage of scholars and theologians. But resurrection is present in every life. That sense of being grateful to be alive, to find the beauty in a sunrise, and the music in a child’s voice, those are Resurrection moments. Resurrection is about overcoming, re-discovering, and celebrating.
Lent is the work that helps name “Resurrection” for every person at each stage of life. It is different in every year, each decade, because we as humans are constantly changing. Allowing Lent to speak, to be heard, enables Resurrection to be heard as well. Those sacrifices of Lent like giving up candy or alcohol or spending additonal time in prayer are conscious steps towards becoming better humans. There are so many ways for this to happen: yoga, cycling, choir practice, work at a food pantry. Affirming the uniqueness of each person’s choice and journey is a movement towards appreciating the fullness of Resurrection.
Lent exposes the possibility that in those moments when Life overwhelms, managing, coping is possible. Accessing every available aid: therapy and support, friendship and prayer makes that possible. Lent suggests that is what God wants for us: to become more and better at being who we are and who we can be for ourselves and others. So Lent is not simply about purple garments or not eating meat on Fridays or fasting on Good Friday. Lent is about a “full forty” of working on becoming a better human being, one ready to live the Resurrection.
Living the Resurrection is what Christianity is about. The sameness of practice or the consistency of ritual does not deny that Christianity is actually all about the journey. And the journey in Lent actually leads to the empty tomb. The “Mary Magdalene Moment” at the empty tomb, that moment of shock and caring, belongs to each person if so allowed. It is the place where self confronts the reality of who we are and the miracle of who we can be. It is the place where we confidently experience full acceptance and know the capacity to trust and be trusted.
Mary Magdalene stood by that tomb, heard her name, and was ready to choose to live Resurrection. She was all about finding the goodness that resides in self and others. In the middle of Lent, finding that light of goodness and knowing that moment of desire to be a better human being for self and others is all that leads to the Resurrection Moment.