Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Lenten Introduction

Since childhood I’ve found the traditional emotions hard to follow. Like Pavlov’s dogs I eventually learned that the expression with the corners of the mouth pulled upwards was a “smile” and connected to “happiness”. What I lacked was an ability to comprehend the sensations that others instinctively associated with those symbols.

In the Episcopal Church I’ve found a different language. One of the great gifts of that tongue is the liturgical calendar, a collection of ancient cycles which shape the Christian life day by day, week by week, season by season. Within these cycles are specific mindsets which have been shaped by a myriad of witnesses as they wrestled with the rhythms and dissonances of the human experience.

As a Christian I move with the seasons. I celebrate the resurrection of Easter, the expectation of Advent, and the revelations of Epiphany with the rest of my church family. At this time, even while fully embracing the other seasons, I also share a persistent abiding in Lent.  

My life is currently shaped by the gift of a Lenten wandering that has lasted for years. Daily I am challenged to lay aside the distractions in my life, to surrender the garbage so that I might appreciate the treasure I’ve neglected. In this wandering I have:
·         Left my home and moved across the country to a place where by not belonging I learned how to belong.
·         Forgone wealth and security to discover the treasure of hospitality and dependence on others.
·         Given up my clothes and found myself freed to live into an expression that delights in my difference, and frees me to rejoice in the differences of others.
·         Been forced to surrender my constant stream of employment as a workaholic. In accepting this (albeit reluctantly) I’ve found contentment which rejoices in daily gifts without worrying about uncontrollable forces.

By embracing this Lenten period in my life I’ve found a way to express the fluidity of my journey, opening myself to possibilities that I could not otherwise have imagined. In the desert I have been freed from a cultural narrative which links happiness with success to find joy in the journey.  By responding to a counter-cultural call to simplicity, I have discovered an inexhaustible complexity which gives meaning to even the smallest action and though.

While I anticipate this desert wandering is far from over, it is time for one major change. Up to this point my reflections have been entrusted to a select few who I trusted could be gentle with my ailing spirit; wounded as I was from discrimination, shame and internalized oppression. Yet in this past year I have grown into a new confidence. Centered in the love of Christ I can no longer refrain from sharing the song which inspires my bare feet to dance. Through stillness and movement I have come to respond in awe to the God who in the greatness of their wisdom has given us freedom to grow and change in love. Will you join me?

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