Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Lenten Voices: An Aspiring Guilty Bystander

by Ellen Hill

Lent is usually viewed as a journey leading up to Easter. A time to fast, meditate and look inward. A penitential period that hopefully leaves us bathed in the light of Easter. We often refer to Lent as entering the wilderness. It’s a dark and scary place where we might actually encounter our own weakness and an awareness of sin.

The world is a scary place in the best of times. This Lent carries the baggage of an economy in trouble, families left homeless, and growing numbers of unemployed. Thousands ruined by the greed of a few. How is this new? Was the world kinder to our parents or grandparents? With such turmoil swirling around us, can there be any better time to step back and examine how we live our lives? Is this not the best time to work for change? Is this not the best time to share what's in our cupboard both physically and spiritually? Is this an opportunity to examine our values? Our lifestyle? Our priorities?

Our life in community teaches that loss is an ever-present fact of life.
Each of us experiences these losses in their own way, and may or may not find profundity in contemplating those losses. That which is deep may also be dark, but darkness itself should not be mistaken for depth. The point is the journey. If this journey ends in an open heart, what could be more profound?

"Lent and Easter", Wisdom from Thomas Merton is a little book of reflections. Edited from his writings for Lent and Easter with text supported by scripture and prayer, it is a lovely companion in the Lenten journey.

"The function of penance and self-denial is then contrition, or the "breaking up" of that hardness of heart which prevents us from understanding God's command to love, and from obeying it effectively." --from Seasons of Celebration

"There is a time to listen, in the active life as everywhere else, and the better part of action is waiting, not knowing what is next and not having a glib answer." --from Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander

Thomas Merton

Ellen Hill is a longtime member of St. Paul's.

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