“As one face differs from another, so does one human heart from another” Proverbs 27:19
I think too often we make the mistake of thinking that each of us are meant to be on the same path or at the same place in our human experience because we share the same faith or at least the same basic belief in Jesus. But this is quite the opposite of the truth. Each of us is responsible for the path we choose and this choice is made every day. Each of us is responsible for the relationship that we cultivate with God, if we choose to cultivate one at all. But how we choose to cultivate it is a choice we make every day.
When I was younger the nuns at my Catholic school taught us all of the guidelines on holiness (because they had to). We had to do this, but couldn’t do that. During Lent we had to eat this but couldn’t eat that. These prayers were the prayers that we said. We were as some people like to suggest “properly catechized.” I disagree now just I did as a petulant young adult with this approach, although I get the value of it, it is not the approach necessarily for me. I used the proverbial, “So let me get this right, if I eat a burger on Friday during Lent, I am going to hell?” Most simply said, “Yes”. (I’m guessing it was hard to be a nun in the 70’s and 80’s). But most of us saw the error in this thinking and it threatened the very value of Lent for many. I get it.
But, if Lent is only left in the “rule stage” and not allowed to be opened up and freshened, then we are just going through empty emotions and cultural norms. (I’m Catholic, my family only eats fish on Fridays sort of thing.) Lent is so much more. Eating fish on Fridays is so much more. Fasting is so much more.
When we approach the season of Lent as it is suppose to be approached we can feel that the rhythm of the liturgical year as it is taking place. We feel ourselves being pulled into the sacrifice that Jesus made if only in a small way. We experience 1000 tiny deaths to our old ways so that we can clear out what is no longer necessary (or what never was) and make room for what God has waiting for us. God has so much waiting for us.
During this holy season of Lent, we are meant to nourish that most important relationship. It will not look like anyone else’s because each of us are sacred in a way that only God knows. Each of us are holy. But being holy doesn’t only mean walking a cloister or taking Holy Orders. God’s grace alone allows our holiness. We cannot earn it, we can never be “good enough”; grace is freely given by our loving Father.
So during the next six weeks, embrace your holiness, embrace the fact that God loves you because you belong to God not because of anything you do. By allowing yourself to embrace your holiness, you acknowledge that you are a child of God. As a child of God, how can you not be holy?
What a thought, me, “holy?” But, yes, it is true, for me and for you! Find your own way to show it…your own way that articulates your connection to your Father.
During Lent, perhaps we can seek to find holiness not only in ourselves but in others. Perhaps we can see that they too are set apart. If we prayerfully ask Jesus to change our hearts, He will. If we prayerfully ask Jesus to shore up our weaknesses, He will. All we need to do, is ask.
Sending you prayers for many blessing on your road through this Lent.