Just last week I saw a big, plump robin. It stared grumpily at me. Perhaps it was a bit chagrined and confused by the snow that had shown up all of a sudden.
As my dog Murphy and I approached, it seemed reluctant (or defiant) and only moved when it had to. It made me smile.
How often are we like that? When things don’t go the way we expect them to, we become stubborn and rebellious, boldly standing our ground. Cold and alone we make our statement.
Sometimes that’s a good thing. When standing up for what we believe, sometimes we have to be cold and alone. There definitely are times that we need to defy those who would deny us our personhood or what we hold dear.
Other times, it’s just our pride or selfishness that makes us dig in our heels and throw a pity party. In so doing, we accomplish little more than looking foolish or causing distress to those around us. As Robert A. Heinlien writes, “If a grasshopper tries to fight a lawnmower, one may admire his courage but not his judgment.”
Fighting lawnmowers or tilting at windmills may happen occasionally in all our lives, but it is far better to take the time to know what it is exactly what we are standing our ground for. If it is a deeply held positive value or belief, then we have reason to be bold and stand firm.
Lent allows us a spate of time to examine our attitudes, actions, and motives. It is soul work that we need to do periodically to examine the health of our relationship to self, others, and God.
Yes, it can be painful at times. At other times it can be encouraging and liberating. You’ll never know which it will be until you do the work.
Let Lent be a time of curious exploration. Look at your life – your relationships, your cherished beliefs, your fears, your hopes, and yes, hatreds. Look boldly, yet compassionately, for this is how God looks at you. Not with searing, mocking judgment, ticking off a laundry list of your sins. But with deep understanding and caring for who you are.
Christ’s deep love, compassion, understanding, and hope be with you on this leg of the journey.