The journey of Lent is a journey with Jesus toward suffering, crucifixion and resurrection. It is a journey that is challenging and rewarding, life-denying and life-giving. It is a journey that calls us to turn to God anew, in ways that call us to sacrifice and allow us to mature.
It was during the Ash Wednesday Vigil, as I offered prayers for many who shared the pain they carry with them, that I learned the news of yet another school shooting. I was reminded again of the importance of making room for pain, sitting with sorrow, and turning to God – not just in prayer – but also in a spirit of true repentance, recognizing that we must change our ways if we truly want to welcome God’s reign.
Turning toward suffering does not mean we seek to suffer, or that we glorify pain in any way, rather that we acknowledge the deep pain and sorrow all around us. It means we recognize the suffering that so many endure, often because of human-made systems and structures that allow, perpetuate and even promote the benefit of some at the expense of others. When we turn toward suffering, we are better able to see what needs crucified in us and in our society, that all people may prosper.
The suffering of so many in our nation is a testament that, collectively, we have much to turn from and much to crucify within our society. Dr. King’s identification of the triple evils of materialism, militarism and racism, all of which feed into the poverty of so many, and the spiritual poverty of all of us, are a good place to start.
This Lenten season, I encourage you to open yourself to the pain around you, that you might understand better what we, collectively, might be able to crucify, knowing that this journey ultimately leads us to God’s path not only of crucifixion, but ultimately resurrection – healing, restoration and the creation of something new – indeed, our very salvation.
Blessings on the journey,