Bright Sadness: experiencing Lent
photo: christina crook, 2007
last night, as i was dozing to sleep, my mind was muddled with thoughts about communications technology (weird I know, I must be a comm grad,) when really, all i wanted to think about was relationships. it was then that i realized, most vividly, what a hindrance technology can be to true relationships.
i was thinking about relationships last night because for the past month i have been realizing more and more that i need more empathy in my life.
i need to see the needs of others before mine. i want to spend my life minding other people’s business (in a good way) but i have been raised in a culture that has told me to:
look out for number one, be successful (at all costs,) and network (ie. use others) to gain that success.
technologies help us build our own little kingdoms (and that’s what they are: little, even if they seem gigantic to us) effectively cutting us off from true self-giving interactions with others.
outlook helps us sort our ‘contacts.’
facebook keeps us up-to-speed on our 1,200 ‘friends’ social activities.
yet none of these enable us to reveal or experience one another’s true selves.
the church calendar has us in the season of lent (known in Eastern Orthodox circles as the season of “Bright Sadness;” it is a season of sorrowful reflection.) it was only last year that i started ‘observing’ lent, and with limited success.
this year i decided to slow down for lent, which has proven quite the challenge. but in spite of myself God has been revealing some deep things to me. things that need change — things that require my repentant heart, and His cross.
the lenten season calls us to again fully surrender ourselves to God.
in the words of Theophan the Recluse:
“to pray is to descend with the mind into the heart, and there stand before the face of God, everpresent, all seeing, within you.”
lent is a time of ‘setting right.’ of reordering our lives, not by our own effort, but by revering again the One who places breath in our lungs and passions in our heart.
this is the time when we need to go back and pray the prayers of devotion we first whispered to Him in the darkness.
for me, they are this:
(prayed at my profession of faith, at new westminster christian reformed church, 1998)
“This is my prayer to you, most holy God, my faithful Father,
To humble me and hide me in the shadows so I might serve and lead from below for Your honour, not for my own purpose or glory. That I might be an encouragement, a bright light to everyone I see. Please take all hate, all pride, all selfishness… purify my darkness so I might reflect You through me in all things, without thought, just living for You.
Lord, I am a hypocrite, walking two walks in one. Please give me the passion to have no compromise so I might live in Your joy forever. Make me bold and humble, pure and true, loving and understanding, with wisdom Lord, for these are all from You.
Thank you for revealing yourself to me and blessing me. Thank you for my family and each amazing friend. Thank you for my health and the abundance that I live in. May I never lose sight of all that you have given me and let me find joy in offering of myself to others.
Lord, take all that I am and shape me into the woman You want me to be. Let that be my one and ONLY desire in life: to serve you and reflect you in everything, always.