Unclenching the fists is a soul-baring release and this first week of Lent has been about the open hand. Last night our small group started a new Easter journey together and we talked about footwashing and how to be a servant and what that really means. Each person shared what this season has meant to them and as I listened to their stories of family and church and traditions, my heart swelled within the walls of me. I knew it meant there was One more with us, and I had to restrain these hands from groping the air around me—reaching out for a touch from the Footwasher.
A week of little deaths, that’s what it’s been and I think I understand why the Orthodox Church calls the season of Lent the Bright Sadness. Celebration and mourning have taken it in turns to stir my deep places and my eyes are opened to the truth that we cannot follow Christ and remain unchanged.
We had another class on preaching this weekend and our teacher kept dropping crumbs—saying things that seemed like common sense—little things—but really…they are everything. Things like, “It’s important for us to live the best lives we can; it’s important for us to live godly lives” and “It’s important to be a regular reader of the Bible—the more familiar with scripture you are, the easier it will be” and “The sermon should always point back to God” and “We have to take time to listen for God.”
We met in the basement of our church, a space used for preschool. As I listened to her wise words I kept getting distracted by blocks of paper with crayola drawings taped together on the wall. “Friendship Quilt” it said at the top, and each block was an individual child’s interpretation of what that meant. I looked around at my classmates—these who have walked this journey with me for going on three years now—and realized I love them. They are my friends. What a beautiful quilt we make.
During Lent I want to burrow away—hide in books and words and prayer. But I know I need these people. It was John Wesley who said,
“Holy solitaries’ is a phrase no more consistent with the Gospel than holy adulterers. The Gospel of Christ knows no religion but social; no holiness, but social holiness.”
It can’t be done alone, this transformation. It requires a rubbing up against each other, a shared realization that these are more than words…they are resurrection. Wesley also said that he liked to set himself on fire so others would come to watch him burn.
A flame spreads. Stand close to the fire. Let’s kindle together through this bright sadness.
How do you embrace the God-joy? Every Monday I’ll be sharing one of my Playdates with God. I would love to hear about yours. It can be anything: outside, quiet time. Maybe it’s solitary. Maybe it’s loud and crowded. Just find Him. Be with Him. Grab my button at the bottom of the page and join us:
The Playdates button: