There are a myriad of reasons we might choose to walk, with the Church, through lenten shadows, but I believe the most powerful call is love.
We love the goodness of life, and we must reckon with how the life we know strikes too many vicious blows against this goodness. We mourn for the wounds we’ve known. We mourn for others who have suffered too much and experienced too little of the beauty. It is necessary to have space for grief, to acknowledge straight-on where the darkness, we insist, must give way to light.
We love our bodies. We are not simply bloated minds, grotesquely extended with only ideas and assertions and theological propositions. Our body aches for ways to encounter what our heart knows – that our life contends with hope, that the promises to which we cling must test their mettle. Our whole person wants to resist evil. We are restless to enact a bold, unflinching no to our own destructive choices. We long to step into the weary but dogged line of courageous rebels, in solidarity with the whole of humanity, digging in our heals, clinching our fists. Our bodies are ready to engage this fight.
We love our world, and all our neighbors in it. In Lent, we do not carry only our sorrows but the sorrows of the world. We make space to sit with the brokenhearted and to grieve with those who fear that they are truly alone, that ruin is their end. Lent will not allow us to pretend that everyone is well. Lent allows us to practice the art of presence.
We love the promise of hope. Lent is the time when our hopes pull taut. The days lengthen (and this is the original meaning of the word lent), and our eyes rise toward the horizon. The muscles stretch. The dimness begins to break. We know brightness will be here soon, and we must hold on. We must be ready for the piercing joy. We will ready ourselves, and we will hold up those who are too weak to face the soon-coming glimmer on their own.
Whatever reason you might enter Lent – for God’s sake, do it for love.