If we were having coffee, I might ask if you follow any sort of Lenten practice? I do, and generally find it a helpful, healthy time of year to clean up, clean out, recenter.
In years past, I’ve given up chocolate, red meat, etc., or taken up some reading, some form of self-improvement. Last year, we chose Star Words on Epiphany and I worked on that, though I never really did understand what Authority was trying to tell me.
Never have I been foolish enough to give up coffee, and a grateful world rejoices. Settle in for another cup; I have a confession.
This year I’ve given up nothing. I’m trying to eat better, get more exercise. Tackle a couple things around the house I’ve been avoiding. But I couldn’t settle my mind on a serious Lenten discipline until a sermon on the first week of Lent on Sin. Fr. Greg did a great job of bringing the concept of Sin out of the Big Hairy Sin area, and down into the little, niggling, just-as-dangerous personal level. The kinds of sin that eats away, slowly but surely, at people. The kind of sin that destroys from inside, and it has me thinking about the things left undone in my life (in the Episcopal confessional, we atone for both the sins we commit in action, as well as our sins of omission). It’s just one thing, an ending, and it is fair to say I have allowed it a lot of space in my head to the detriment of better, nobler pursuits.
I neither desired nor initiated this ending, and it’s only me that hasn’t acknowledged it, but if there is a time for rigorous self-honesty, Lent is it.
There have been letters written and wisely left unsent; a good, long talk with Paul during which he let me ramble on until I finished with, I don’t really know what I expect to get out of it, or even what I want. Maybe that’s not it – maybe I just want to force the issue, hear the words ‘I’ve decided you are not necessary to my life anymore, please go away.’ And ultimately, what’s the point? When I find myself questioning if I care enough to want that, truth be told.
For a smart person, I can be a bit slow on the uptake, particularly with regards to rejection, but I do eventually get there.
A good Lent provides clarity but also time, time to sit with the clarity, time to accept it. Acceptance: the final stage of grief. Admitting to myself that what I have been doing, not terribly well, is grieving, and that the grief is consuming energy better deployed elsewhere.
Earlier this week I saw a video clip of Prince Harry reading Ecclesiastes 3. What a beautiful deep voice he has, and as a two-tour veteran of Afghanistan, I imagine he understands the wisdom of this passage better than most of us. All that being said, I think there was something more kept it circling my head this week. There was a message in it for me: It is time. Time to stop looking for answers or reasons to this particularly unanswerable question. Time to consign it to the Mysteries of the Universe, and People. Time to Accept. Time to put away the grief, confusion, and sadness. Time to acknowledge the season that was, and passed time to let it go.
Time to face forward, walk through the hurt and heal. Time to evict this particular squatter from my head. Time to move on.
If we were having coffee, I would wonder aloud if you have ever clung stubbornly to people or situations beyond what was healthy? Do you struggle with accepting an ending because it hurts? Who or what helps you? How do you evict the squatters in your head?