Lent remembers Jesus’ entrance into public life, his trials in becoming known, being challenged, experiencing success, temptation and betrayal. It is his ascendancy into adulthood in a sometimes hostile and unforgiving environment. Even more, it is about establishing relationships, building bonds, moving towards an end and a literally incredible new beginning.
Lent is about taking the time for relationship with God and with one another, with all that entails. It means finding time for recognizing opportunities and building those connections with meaning and purpose. It is about deliberate, intentional choices to take care of what is most primary, fundamental in life: self, one another and the world. There are tender and classic ways to approach this situation.
There is a walk in the woods, a run on the beach, breathing deeply under a blue sky. There are the Stations of the Cross, the chance to go to Confession, weekly Masses, the Rosary, Bible study. There are the haunting melodies of sacred music and the beckoning brilliance of the Easter Vigil’s Exulstet. There are budding daffodils and crocuses, lily of the valley, and the tentative greens of reawakening plants.
There are friends to be seen, conversations to be had, grace before meals to be shared. There is the chance to focus on that which truly matters: the breath of life….Lent is the chance to consciously choose to breathe deeply of the world and know its gifts: the miracle of snowfall, the clarity of blue skies, the roar of the ocean and the courage of the moon lighting the night; the softness of a child’s hand, the whisper of a treasured secret, the laughter with an unexpected choice, the full-fledged bear hug.
All of these are part of the promise of Jesus’ entrance into public life: it is embracing what is created, celebrating what exists, and loving each into something more. It is not without risk, challenge, and yet it offers comfort, redefines hope and generates joy. Ultimately, it is the invitation to live fully with all the inevitable suffering that is part of being human.
Lent is like a walk along the seashore where footprints create trails that live only with the ocean’s assent. Lent is like learning that the path itself is not as meaningful as the being on the journey, knowing that each decade offers different opportunities. Lent is about creating memories as much as remembering, and most of all, Lent is about doing and being fully human and fully alive. And that is what the public ministry was all about: fully human and fully alive.
Time: we live within its increments, its desires, cordoned to its measures from birth, memories dancing to decades and diminishment its less-than-welcome ending. The public minstry was captured in time: Lent is another chance to discover and rediscover what it means to be human and alive.