Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing.
By my count, this is the 30th day (27th without the Sundays) of Lent. We are coming closer. Our journey’s footprint is beginning to narrow, honing in on our destination. Things are beginning to change. You can feel it in the air. If you listen, really listen, you can hear the voices growing louder. There’s a part of us that wants to go back, perhaps hide away until it is all over but we know that’s not the way it works. The journey with all of its twists and turns are part of life. We speak of going out into the world, of “broadening” our mission, often with a sense of leaving home behind. But Lent teaches us something different. Our journey’s map is one of widening circles as we gather the world in and, yet, the point of it, the center, tends to become a little clearer with each step. We begin to sense the center of all these circles. We begin to feel at home.
I have several times had the wonderful gift of sharing final journeys. It is a time of remembering, yes, but it is more. In the last few years of my grandmother’s life, she seemed to be gathering her memories around her, trying to recap them, trying to capture what was important so that she could leave it behind intact. Maybe that’s what we should do when things begin to change. Rather than walking blindly and fearlessly into the unknown as if we have some sort of prideful martyr complex, maybe we are called to gather what we have learned, those whom we have loved, those memories that are part of us, and claim them. God calls us forward on this journey to leave behind things like material items and things to which we hold to our detriment, things that are not ours to hold. God calls us forward not to leave our selves behind but to claim the real self that we are. And those memories, those things we have learned, those we have loved are part of our real self. They are part of God’s way of returning us to God.
Ann Danielson said that “home is where your story begins“. I don’t think that’s limited to the place that you were born, the place in which you began. Home is not meant to be a place. It is meant to be a way of being. Maybe that means that each new beginning, each time our story begins, is home. Our journey is not one of going to a place we do not know but one of returning, returning to who we are called to be, returning to God. That is what Lent teaches us. It is a season of reflection and introspection. It is a season of gathering and pruning, of knowing which things we are called to release and what we are called to hold. Lent is the season when we reset our journey once again so that it is calibrated with our story, so that the journey is one both of returning home and being home. It is a journey of returning and re-turning. Lent is a season when we finally know what it means to be home, to know what claims us, to know what give us life.
Our true home is in the present moment. The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth in the present moment. Peace is all around us–in the world and in nature–and within us–in our bodies and our spirits. Once we learn to touch this peace, we will be healed and transformed. (Thich Nhat Hanh)
On this 30th day of Lent, as the pathway begins to turn, remember from where you’ve come. Gather what is important, what is part of you, those things you need to claim.
Grace and Peace,