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Until today, I must say that Lent has not been a favorite season for me. I did not grow up with a seasonal observance of the church year and until about 20 years ago I had no real clue about the season of Lent.
This year, the season of Lent came more quickly than I realized and bearing gifts, new thoughts and a deeper sense of awareness. I am often engaged by those who want to know what I am giving up for Lent and it is from the space that question creates within me that I begin my journey of Lenten Reflection.
The idea of the Gift of Mortality summoned the abstractions of life, death and time to my midst and typically this is not a gathering of thoughts that I look forward to. On Sunday night, I found myself engaging them in the form of intrigue, bewilderment and wonder. Intrigue arrived as she often does with question upon question which typically stirs my sense of resistance of an idea. This time was different because I wanted to know for the sake of something greater and deeper than I could understand. I found myself somewhere between the quandary of beginnings and endings, when all of a sudden the gift of mortality in the moment became an awareness of life and from that precipice, a moment of gratitude washed over me.
Next, came bewilderment in all of her glory and fabulousness riding in on the idea proposed by the constructs of permanence and impermanence as a lens for considering the question of: “How will I let go?” I realized that there is a how, a process if you will and way of releasing those I love and a way of even granting permission to those whom I love to release me. The video, “Heaven or Whatever” gave credence to my thoughts that Heaven is everywhere present to us. The very idea that Heaven is: here, now, not yet, you, me and us became exciting, palatable, tangible and visible to my soul. Wow, what a rush!!!
Just when I thought the evening, the message, the undertones and the considerations could not get any better; wonder arrived quietly and stood almost statuesque near the door in the form of our discussion question; “If I were given three months to live, what would change?” Initially, I thought nothing and as I sat with the question I had the idea that I would spend as much time as I could in the presence of babies (wisdom keepers) and the aging (sages), that I might summon courage, embody joy and embrace peace at every moment. I wondered how it would feel to know that I was living, only to die and dying that I might therefore be more alive.
Here is the thing about the abstractions of life, death and time in the form of intrigue, bewilderment and wonder; they all posed the same question; “What is required of me to live?” For the first time, they yielded to the rendering effect of realism. For me realism means: accepting that the situation is what the situation is, and we must deal with the situation as it is. The real Truth is that I am going to die and when I do, I want to have lived an unyielding life that is poured out into the world rather dying full of unrealized purpose. Our time is limited, we come equipped with a sell by, use by date and a built in expiration date. Now what?
The gift of mortality is light thrown against the darkness (life/intrigue), the whisper in the crowd (death/bewilderment), the profound wrapped in the mundane (time/wonder) and their collective message to my very soul; “Do it now!” Whatever it is, now is the time, now is the way, now is the Truth and now is the Light. My personal manifesto is evermore: I cannot die an unlived life any more than one can harvest an unplanted garden.
Finally, I am not giving up anything for Lent, I am taking on living a life well lived in route to a good death and this is the gift of mortality for me this day.
We are a misfit faith community that gathers in DeLand on Sundays at 5pm. Come as you are.
We value highly the metaphor of journey. We’re different people from different places and backgrounds, representing an intergenerational community, and we’ve traveled different paths. So, we agree not to make assumptions about the person across from us, next to us, or in conversation with us. We challenge ourselves to be sensitive, knowing this community includes a diverse group of people from life-long followers of Jesus, to people who are just now open to the idea that God might exist. We strive to avoid offense, ask good questions, articulate and explain our responses. We don’t assume fluency in bible, spirituality, or Church language, because we believe the message of Jesus is not for Christianity, but for humanity. So, we do everything in the spirit of love and grace.