So, here we are in the fourth week of Lent. Don't know about you, but I can't say for certain that I'm "passing with flying colors".
My Lenten practice for this year has to do with my heart, and specifically, trying to soften my heart in places where it has grown hard. Or, another way of looking at it, I'm tasked with recognizing that there are some weeds that will need whacking... if only I would be so kind as to stop trying to tend to these weeds as if they are beautiful flowers.
Do you know how difficult that is? I'll tell you: very!
As part of my practice, I pulled out again my audio copy of "The Great Divorce" by C.S. Lewis in which Lewis takes us on a journey to a place with unbendable grass, and rain that could pierce the body. This is the plain on which spirits meet ghosts, many from their earthly lives, who entreat them to give up the "things" that they cling to as their identities... and allow the ghosts to change, become "thicker", and head to the mountain range that lies ahead and is Heaven. Otherwise, they may turn around and go back to the "gray town". The choice lies with the ghost. If the ghost decides to go to the mountains, it must undergo a transformation to make the journey.
This is the fourth time I've listened to this book, but unlike the other times, I find that I am hearing each of the vignettes and the discussion between the narrator and his own spirit guide differently, and even deeper, than the first three. So much of what is at play in these stories is similar to the lessons that I'm gleaning from readings in Romans in the Daily Office (not to mention the gospels). A theme seems to arise: that to follow Christ, to enter into eternal life right now, one must "die" to the old ways and habits and crutches that you think are getting you through life and getting you what you "deserve", and instead "be risen" into a new way of seeing how loved you are in all your perfect imperfection just like everybody else and to realize that by the grace of God you will be OK, you will always have exactly what you need and you won't die from dropping your old habit, but instead will gain more life.
OK... so what does this have to do with me and my hardened, weed-infested heart?
The more I ponder this concept, the more I can feel glimmers of light breaking through the rocky spots in my soul. Mind you, these breakthroughs are not coming without some pain, some fear, and some desires to run back to the darkness. And some of the pain comes from the realization that I have been trying to push God back even as God is determined to resume the spot as the head of my soul. I have tried to fill my life with "things", partly out of desire for dawn to break over the marbleheads in the state legislature on gay rights... but also to keep from following through on my Lenten discipline to pay attention to the places in my heart that have hardened, and learn from that. Because its not fun, and its not easy, and I'm scared.
So, I'm recommitting, people! I have two weeks to go quiet, move through the pain, not allow the fear to cripple me and pay attention to the lessons on the way. Because, in my head, I know the reward is Easter, and not just the second Sunday in April... but in renewal of my spirit.
Head: let me introduce you to my heart...