“No pain, no palm; no thorns, no throne; no gall, no glory; no cross, no crown.” – William Penn
As we enter this Holy Week from Palm Sunday to Good Friday to Easter, this Lent 2020 will be one to be remembered forever as we’ve walked it out through the bearing of our own crosses of a worldwide pandemic. Fear, uncertainty, stress, boredom, “unprecedented times” for our time at least.
I’d like to say that I’ve spent the last 40 days studying the Bible, in hours of praying the rosary. I haven’t. But I have felt God’s presence daily rather than just on Sunday’s for an hour. Much of the time has been spent reflecting on me and my life to now and where it should be, in dozens of meetings to keep work going and planning for the other side, clearing clutter and preparing the house for painting so new floors can be installed and getting outside a lot with the dogs. In sum, the past days have been about me and the impact of COVID-19 on my life and those who I love.
Self-reflection is the point of Lent. To look within, take inventory, be quiet, reflect, repent, forgive, embrace and prepare for the third day of resurrection, of becoming a new person, our best self that already exists and is being called out to play and stay. The “end-game” of Lent is to die to self and to accept the grace and mercy of the cross, of resurrection and new life. To let go of old ways, to strengthen our compassion, forgiveness and empathy muscles to flex them with the world like never before. To realize that we are and always have been held and carried by God. In carrying our own crosses, we get but a glimpse of what Jesus accomplished and offered up by dying on the cross for us. Now that’s really living out Lent.
This Lent has been our own collective invitation to enter silence, let go of fear and control, to change our priorities, to love deeper and hug longer. In boredom, in struggle, in loneliness, in the desert, we are being transformed, the cocoon to butterfly, the seed to bloom, from thirst to hydration. And just as winter always turns to spring, Lent always turns to Easter. Resurrection, changed, new and never to return to our old selves. Muted colors become brilliant. Flowers more fragrant. Gratitude for what already is within us deepened.
This has been a holy, sacred season. Reflect on the lessons during this Holy Week, read the passion of Christ – from the last supper, to 30 silver coins, to being denied by his best friend three times followed by the cock crowing, to the agony of being nailed to a cross. And 3 days later, the stone rolled away from the tomb to resurrection. We are truly living out Lent this year on this journey. And as we grieve the dying to our old self, prepare to be overwhelmed with the transformation to who we are meant to be – Easter people, filled with hope, love, trust, joy and faith.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30
“Do you realize that Jesus is there in the tabernacle expressly for you – for you alone? He burns with the desire to come into your heart.” – St. Therese’ of Lisieux
“We give glory to You, Lord, who raised up Your cross to span the jaws of death like a bridge by which souls might pass from the region of the dead to the land of the living. We give glory to You who put on the body of a single mortal man and made it the source of life for every other mortal man.” – St. Ephrem of Edessa