Saturday, 26 March 2016

Leaning Into Lent: Day 40—Digging Deeper

There. Forty days. It’s all gone quiet. Spear heads wiped clean, hammers and nails put away until the next time. Jesus’ body is safely in a tomb, stone rolled into place. His seditious, maddening talk and histrionics silenced, his magic tricks stilled by rational politics.

I love the way Professor John Stackhouse describes it in The Subversiveness of Easter:
Then he is buried. Gone. Out of sight, out of mind.
Like a ticking bomb.
Heh, heh.

Tomorrow we celebrate, but before that, I wonder what the forty day attempt at observing a Holy Lent has done in me. I certainly don’t feel like I’m about to go down off a mountain, like Moses. Nor do I feel like I’ve just completed a forty day battle with Satan in the wilderness, like Jesus. What has it all achieved?

First an insight from a book. In The Cloister Walk (New York: Riverhead Books, 1996) Kathleen Norris described her time with the Benedictine monks like this:
I should try telling my friends who have a hard time comprehending why I like to spend so much time going to church with Benedictines that I do so for the same reasons that I write: to let words work the earth of my heart. (p144-145)
That’s what’s happened to me, too. God’s words in Scripture and Daily Prayer have worked the earth of my heart these forty days. A holy rototiller.

Finally, an insight from THE book. Back on Day 24 the second reading in Morning Prayer was Hebrews 10 which is about how Jesus’ sacrifice was bodily, once and for all and which includes this verse:
Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,  “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me” (Heb 10.5)
The writer is quoting Psalm 40.6:
Sacrifice and offering you have not desired, but you have given me an open ear. 
…the original Hebrew literally means, “ears you have dug for me.”

Most of the time Leaning into Lent is the unspectacular, earthy spiritual work of making myself available and attentive so God’s words can work the earth of my heart as he digs my ears clear, so I can hear the bodily risen Jesus more clearly, love him more dearly and follow him more nearly. Year after year.