One cannot successfully know the Lord outside of others. We need others to help us. We do not always feel what we think we ought to feel. God’s grace is so pervasively upon me, but I go throughout my day numb to it, unaware even. I have observed that this is part of the human condition and perhaps one of the saddest and most sinister forms of evil–to not know that God loves you, actively, even as you speak. How comforting to learn that this boat holds almost all of humanity. And therein lies the hope within this particular form of evil. By observing in others their numbness to God, I can confess my own numbness and therefore break through the hold. So community is necessary.
I spent most of Lent day 5 by myself. I did make phone calls and set up appointments and wrote and read. I did laundry, dishes, cleaned up in the bedroom and recycled our ever-present mass of cardboard. It was productive. Then I exited for an evening with a church family that I love. I was welcomed, fed, spoken to, listened to and loved back. It makes a difference. I think in the scope of Lent, as we traditionally give something up, it would be necessary to be surrounded by others on the journey. Amazingly, sometimes the disciplines, though difficult individually, can be nourishing in community. I know that solitude is a necessary discipline at times, and one that I have experienced and encourage. But I cannot see its worth over a prolonged amount of time. For me, it would be akin to torture. In the process of being alone in the day and being there for the evening, I came to realize that my lone rangerness is a matter that I have to work harder on curbing. I tend to retreat into my own psyche. I know that is a tendency of my introversion and not necessarily bad. But the shadow side is an addiction to one’s own ego that can be unhealthy. Perhaps I need a discipline whereby that tendency can be fruitful but not overwhelming.
I guess this is the point of Lent: to discover cracks in one’s soul and set about tending to them. The image of myself is not always pleasant, but the reflection is good.
My discipline scorecard:
1a) Driving the speed limit-Not much driving, so I did well here. 4:4
1b) Foul language-Did well until hearing about the frailties of another church. 2:4
2) Fasting lunch-Did not have a proper lunch, but did down a bag of Valentine chocolates. 1:4
3) Giving up Facebook- Sometimes it’s soooooo easy, I’m ashamed of myself. 4:4
4) Reading-No. 1:4
5) Something strictly between God and me-I am happy to be doing well on this.
6) Visiting parishioners-Had an evening plus several phone calls. 4:4
7) Playing guitar-No. 1:4Photo: “The Last Supper” by Auntie P