“I believe in the sun even when it isn’t shining, I believe in love even when I am alone, I believe in God even when he is silent”
Ash Wednesday has passed and our 40 day Lenten season has begun, hopefully with an open and attentive mind. For some this time of the year is hardly noticed and often without any value. For some, it is an intense time of prayer and sacrifice. For many it is staying awake in the spirit of evaluating who we have been and who we are.
The church calendar has 6 liturgical seasons each with its own flavor and nuance. The Lenten season is an opportunity to remember the end point of our existence – to reflect on why we are here at this time, sharing the world with this particular generation. For 40 days we step towards the summit of who we are becoming, we are one year older as Christians having collectively celebrated our birthday on Ash Wednesday.
God does not Force Us
The character of God does not force us to drink from the well of life, walk the path of freedom, or take on a life of prayer. God does not demand we build communities of love and inclusion, 0r journey in the desert. God does not insist we look into our neighbor’s eyes with compassion and understanding, or gaze into a pool of water and see the beginning of creation. God does NOT demand we see ourselves as loved without question.
Lent IS a time to ask ourselves, “How separate am I from my true self?” What is keeping me from doing our best at forgiving when we stopped burdening one another of past judgments and the isolation it brings.
“Faith dares the soul to go farther than it can see.” – William Newton Clark
During one of my early icon painting workshops everyone had left and I was left alone at the end of class feeling my interior conversation was not finished. Suddenly something split open, as if some entity had entered behind me, a new body was sitting right inside me. I waited still as stone thinking, who is this?
I heard a voice say “it is I”. I responded by asking “have you always been here within in me?” I waited. Then very quietly I said, almost imperceptibly, “You must live this way within each of us”. Then there was long silence and I heard “Yes… few have time to notice, I am the same in many forms.” I left the classroom in tears of joy and remorse. It is bold for anyone to say, I am a walking icon. However each human is an icon and reflection of the divine that lives in us waiting to be noticed. Icon painting is a format and technique which shouts how God’s grace is active in everyone and everything.
Making seen that which is unseen.
I have come to see the world as a metaphor, nearly everything which happens to us is screaming to be understood through the eye of spirit, we just need to reflect long enough to hear the message. The individual life we live, the things we own, what we do, etc is not THAT important, what is significant is what do we perceive in the heart and how we convey its great wisdom.
Faith teaches that God exists and ‘He’ made creation for a noble purpose. As a Human, I am part of that creation and through painting icons with egg tempera, I connect to creation. Lenten time, despite all the hurry and bustle of over-filled days, provides an opportunity to ponder why we are here. In the final analysis, anything that draws us closer towards God and Peace is a blessing, even if it is unknown at first glance. Lenten faith does indeed dare the soul to go farther than we can see…