A few more clues about entering a Holy Lent in this place...

Right now I'm listening to Pentangle -one of my favorite Celtic/jazz bands of the 60s - and thinking about entering a Holy Lent.  It is snowing - again - and my wife just gave me a fascinating book because she said, "It made me think of you."  Pilgrimage to Dzhvari, is the spiritual biography of a Georgian woman and her son taking up residence in a remote Orthodox monastery in the ebbing days of Soviet communism.  She knows that I have long been fascinated with the monastic life even though I am so thoroughly woven into the web of popular culture and the realm of the arts. A challenging paradox, to be sure!

So all of these things have been swimming around inside me for a while as I try to discern how God might be calling us to enter a Holy Lent this year.  I am particularly concerned with what might be a good way to help the faith community explore and embrace the deeper wisdom of Lent.  We have been experimenting with going beyond the forms for a few years - and many did not even know the forms when we started - but that no longer seems satisfying.  This year we are being called to go deeper...

I started to get some clues during our last two band practices where we spent time talking about Good Friday.  This year it seems like we're going to focus on betrayal stories of the garden before getting to the Cross.  They are so rich - and challenging - and compelling, too.  A few songs have popped up for this emphasis from Queen's "Under Pressure" and Paul Simon's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" to Luka Bloom's "The One" and a jazzy, upside-down look at "What Child Is This?" in the context of Christ's words to his mother from the Cross.  Probably Leonard Cohen's "Anthem" to bring things to a close.

Two other clues came to me this weekend while reviewing the poetry and art for Lent suggested by the "Behold: Arts for the Church Year" series published by Wood Lake Books of Canada.  These quotes from Douglas John Hall and Martin Luther seem to move me towards Lent, too:

+ Douglas John Hall:  God does not meet our need for security only with a refusal and rebuff. God offers us an alternative to certitude. It is called trust. God reveals Godself as one who may be trusted. Sight, or the kind of finality that sight seems to make possible, is not given... Certitude is denied; confidence is made possible. Consider that word - confidence - literally, in the Latin, it means living with (con) faith (fide.)

+ Martin Luther: This life, therefore, is not godliness, but the process of becoming godly, not health but getting well, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise.  We are not now what we shall be, but we are on the way. The process is not yet finished, but it is actively going on. This is not the goal, but it is the right road.

That's when it hit me:  after looking at the arch of the stories in the Common Lectionary for Lent - a collection that takes Jesus from the wilderness of Ash Wednesday to the healing of his friend Lazarus just outside of Jerusalem - this is about the rhythm of feasting and fasting in the shadow of the Cross.  It is, in other words, a spirituality "that teaches us, or has taught most of us, how to deal with failure. We learn at a very young age that failure is the norm in life... errors are part of the game, part of its rigorous truth." (Ernest Kurtz, A Spirituality of Imperfection)

So why not see what the journey and rhythm of Jesus has to say about entering and honoring our failures; specifically, could there be a dialogue between the gospel texts and the five touchstones of wisdom offered in a spirituality of imperfection?  I think so... and it looks like this to me right now.

+ Lent One:  Matthew 4 – the wilderness/temptation corresponds to the insight of release

+ Lent Two:  John 3 – born again corresponds to the insight of humility

+ Lent Three:  John 4 – the Samaritan woman at the well corresponds to the insight of gratitude

+ Lent Four:  John 9 – healing a blind man on the Sabbath corresponds to the insight of forgiveness as the key to our life

+ Lent Five:  John 11 – the healing of Lazarus corresponds to the insight of living out of a deep spiritual home

We'll see how thus unfolds.  I'm already thinking I want to use some similar themes from the Rule of Benedict as unpacked by Joan Chittister in Wisdom Distilled for the Daily. But for right now... a few more of the clues are becoming clearer. Time to chill a bit - practice my bass - and head out for some jazz workouts later tonight. 


SGF said…
I feel it will be a deeper and more meaningful lenten season as I read.
RJ said…
Hey brother... glad to hear from you.

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