“All you who are thirsty, come to the water!” – Isaiah 55:1
He is risen! And I am late.
Truth be told, I had a packed weekend that included three egg hunts, a birthday party and a day trip across the state to see the family, so I think I can get a dispensation for writing my Easter reflection on the following Wednesday.
Besides, Easter is supposed to be a 50-day long celebration, and that has taken on a particular meaning for me. It was around Easter of last year that my wife told me that she wanted to part ways. As I wrote in the aftermath of that, it was the joy of the resurrection that was sustaining me.
A year later, I believe that I am through the worst of it. I still have my house, my kids (albeit for less time) and my faith. My pastor even asked me to be part of the leadership team for a new divorce support group.
So I am happy to say that the Resurrection remains a focal point for me. I feel the Spirit when the lights turn on at the vigil mass as we sing “Alleluia!” for the first time in a month and a half. I move forward without knowing what lies ahead, but with the knowledge that the Jesus who defeated death itself will carry me through whatever comes my way.
“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14)
In a post on the CTA 20/30 site last week, Justin Sengstock, a blogger-colleague (blogleague?) of mine, reflected on Lent in high school days of yore, when he treated the penitential season as a “competitive sport.” He told of going without food between meals every day, complete with pounding headaches and an ill-placed sense of accomplishment.
Justin is not alone. I’ve tried various innovations of Lenten piety. One year, fresh off of three earned Middle Eastern history credits, I did a Ramadan-esque fast of waiting until sundown to eat (at which point I ended up making up for lost time). Even as recently as this past Ash Wednesday, I elected to limit myself to bread and water for the day. It turns out that it’s hard to adequately perform a high-stress teaching job when my own body is yelling at me to stop starving myself.
I kind of missed the point. And that’s why the readings this week appear during the season of Lent, because a lot of us miss the point. Mortification of the body for mortification’s sake is not really fasting. It becomes either an obsessive-compulsive Christianity that frets over a self-imposed process or the hypocritical “look at me!” Christianity that Jesus warns us about in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:16-18).
How many of you have faced a decision about moving to a far-off place or to a major career change? In today’s world of expansive communication and transportation, few of us can answer “no” to that question. But the fact that it is now easier to uproot oneself does not make the decision to do so any easier.
“Let my trust be in your mercy, not in myself. Let my hope be in Your love, not in health, or strength, or ability or human resources.
If I trust in You, everything else will become, for me, strength, health, and support. Everything will bring me to heaven. If I do not trust You, everything will be my destruction.”—Thomas Merton
I am a sheep.
How you doin’?
Now in different climes, this could mean different things. To people of faith, I could be acknowledging my desire to follow Jesus, the Good Shepherd. To hipsters, punks and other breeds of nonconformist, I could be admitting that I fail to deviate from the societal norm. To physicists, I could be declaring myself to be a computer program that calculates General Relativity.
In the gun world, I am a sheep, and apparently that’s not a good thing.
“Children are human beings to whom respect is due, superior to us by reason of their innocence and of the greater possibilities of their future.” – Maria Montessori
I love taking my kids to church. I used to be anxious about disruptions, but I got over that a long time ago. As it turns out, I only get complaints from fellow parishioners when I don’t bring them. My children also remind me from time to time that they are more spiritual than I am.
“We live in a world that celebrates superficial beauty and rejects ugly, yet God sees beauty in all of us despite our ugliness. Jesus loves us just the way we are.” –Pastor Jamie Stilson, Vineyard Community Church of Cape Coral (Fla.)
Today was the first “summer” day for the kids.* We broke out the sprinkler and the heretofore unused inflatable wading pool for the purpose of joyful splashing and scampering. But after a few minutes of Daddy demonstrating how to properly jump through a sprinkler and Mommy placing Jacob (16 months old) in the wading pool, the experience ended up turning into Jacob toddling around the driveway, and Hannah (2 years) taking pleasure in using a sprinkler-free hose to water whom- or whatever she could find.
Once again, my kids have taught me a lesson in Christian living.