Ash Wednesday is tomorrow which means Lent is beginning. Those 40 days where the Israelites wandered in the wilderness. Those 40 days where we find ourselves traveling down that Lenten road to the cross and then finally to the empty tomb. This past year has felt like the longest Lenten weary road. There have been so many times I have just wanted to stop and sit on the side of the road waiting for someone to come along to walk with me.
Yesterday was the first anniversary of my friend Ben’s death. 365 days have passed since he took his last breath. At times, the grief has seemed somewhat subdued while at other times it has come on so suddenly and fast. Grief has a way of paralyzing us. We want to feel something; anything. Or we find ourselves trying to find a new normal in the midst of our grief.
The anniversaries are a passing of time. They continually remind us that this person is no longer with us. Today a friend shared this video about grief that really resonated with me.
Lent is truly a time for us to feel; to remember the promise of eternal life spoken over us as the ashes are placed upon our foreheads. “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” That ashen cross reminds us again and again of our humanity and our mortality. It reminds us that life not death has the final word. Once again, in the words of Clarence W Hall, “Easter says you can put death in the grave, but it won’t stay there.”
There are times when it feels like death will stay in the grave. Yet God continually shows us the power that God holds. Lazarus is resurrected. Jesus is resurrection. Seeing and trusting in these acts of faith, I must also trust in the promise that God indeed has the power to overcome death. Ben is gone, but together we remember him. We are thankful and know that we are better for having known him.
Trusting in the promise of eternal life, Lent should and can feel like a spiritual journey renewing my faith in God and each other. But a lot of the times it can feel so beautifully broken. The words to Gungor’s song “Beautiful Things” are now playing in my heart and soul. “God makes beautiful things out of dust, out of us.” The road to the cross is not easy. In fact, it is extremely difficult.
Yet in our humanity, God calls us to grab his hand and walk along this Lenten weary road even when that Lenten weary road feels endlessly long. Because if we hold on tight, we eventually make it to the cross and then three days later, we come to the tomb to find it empty. It is a reminder that all is not lost. That life is meant to be lived and that death does not have the final say.
For it is at the empty tomb that we can truly declare that the world is about to turn. With Jesus’ resurrection, God declares that life not death has the final word.
“My heart shall sing of the day you bring. Let the fires of your justice burn. Wipe away all tears, for the dawn draws near, and the world is about to turn (Canticle of the Turning; Rory Cooney; Copyright 1990 GIA Publications).”
Linking up with Kelly and the Ra Ra linkup, Mary and Tell His Story, Sue and Let’s Have Coffee and Kristin and Porch Stories!