Ash Wednesday is just ahead and once again the Lenten season is about to begin. It is a time of pilgrimage, a time of setting out into the often troubling and most arid parts of our lives to discover anew the mystery of God’s love, and mercy. It is in the making of this journey that we set ourselves the task of rediscovering the hope that sweeps the dust from the lamp of our faith. It is not an easy journey as waymarks are few, dangers lurk, and all sorts of temptations abound. Perhaps the greatest challenge is simply believing that we both need to, and are capable of doing this. The Lenten journey is in many ways a solitary one. It is a time when every individual, regardless of religious affiliation or not, can take some time and sort out the direction his or her life has taken. It is also then follows that we should focus on what needs to be done to be better people, to be more Christ like in all that we do. I don’t mean to imply that by following a few steps one miraculously discovers fulfillment in the spiritual life. Quite the contrary, as all of this spiritual effort frequently takes place in a mysterious world of dim light and featureless landscapes that tends to create more uncertainty, than clarity, as we seek the path we are to follow. But, it is also a time when hope, prayer and reflexion can come together to lead us from this confusion to the truth of God’s love and what that means for us. It is in our willingness to accept God’s unconditional love that our peace and joy are born anew. Every pilgrim road we have walked bears witness to this. Today we find ourselves inhabiting a world that is suffering on so many levels that it can crush our spirits and throw us into despair. Let us hope that this year’s Lenten journey can help us all find the compassion and mercy needed to start the healing that is now so needed, and so long overdue.
“In order to find God in ourselves, we must stop looking at ourselves, stop checking and verifying ourselves in the mirror of our own futility, and be content to be in Him and do whatever He wills, according to our limitations, judging our acts not in the light of our own illusions, but in the light of His reality which is all around us in the things and people we live with.”
Thomas Merton, No Man is an Island
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23)