Thursday, February 18, 2010

'Tis the Season

Mark Twain said, “When you get to heaven, leave your dog outside. Heaven works on favor, not merit. If heaven worked on merit, your dog would get in and you wouldn’t.” I always remember this quote when we get to Ash Wednesday. When we come to Ash Wednesday and begin this long Lenten journey, it is good to remember that God’s love for us and desire to be with us is not something we earn, but something that simply is, no matter what. With all of our brokenness, we are certainly creatures that can only approach God because of God’s loving favor towards us. We come to God with all of who we are: broken, weak, fearful, in need of life-giving forgiveness. Our journey to God is a journey of healing, wholeness, and holiness. Not only must we know where we fall short of God’s desire for us, but we must know what it means to be holy. We must know where we are headed if we ever wish to arrive.

God created us to be holy people. We are all in need of being restored to that person that God created us to be. Restoration means healing and to be healed means that we must know what is broken. Only then can we cooperate with God in the process of being made whole. So the journey of healing, wholeness, and holiness begins with self examination and self awareness. Our self examination can encompass body, mind, and spirit. We can even have an intention for examination of the unconscious, an ancient and powerful discipline. So we begin with a dose of self awareness. Ouch! We hold ourselves in the light of God’s love and have nothing to say for ourselves. We are who we are. We have made a mess of things. We have fallen away. We have made ashes out of God’s love. We have managed to cause death in the midst of the gift of life.

The honest work of self awareness and self examination is not easy. We rely on others to hold up a mirror so that we can look at ourselves. It requires some compassionate observation of ourselves. Let us simply see who we are. Let us see ourselves without judgment, without condemnation. Let us simply seek out the light of God’s love and stand in it. All is seen. All is known. It is a lonely place.

But then, perhaps we are not so alone as we thought. Every one of us stands alone before God. Every one of us stands in the presence of God as an individual. But what a great paradox – we all stand alone before God together: each of us a unique being and yet in the identical predicament, each of us a distinct creature and yet having much in common with the other. We all know what it is like to be broken. We all know the need to be healed.

So we need both life-giving forgiveness and to forgive. It is the nature of life as human beings. We experience the grace that comes when we find ourselves forgiven by God and others. We offer that experience to others. It is not an easy thing to forgive. It requires the best of us and calls us into places of wisdom and love. Life-giving forgiveness is a practice that grows over time. Hopefully we get better and better both at forgiving and being forgiven. These next few weeks, we will be intentional about seeing how life-giving forgiveness is a part of our life’s journey. May we find ourselves immersed in healing, wholeness, and holiness.

No comments:

Post a Comment