Brian’s Reflection: Ash Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Human kind cannot bear
very much reality.
T.S. Eliot, from his poem
O yes we can!
If we can’t, it is because we have been betrayed by our teachers and spiritual leaders. Though one must remember that they too were betrayed. Blame is not helpful; we are in this together.
Many things have colluded to undermine our sense of strength, personal integrity, courage, hope, our vision for our humanity and the possibilities of its destiny. Eliot was a wise seer; he may have been commenting on his experience of the human race – and especially our fear of Reality. Fear triggers the avoidance and the procrastination and the sense of self-doubt of which we all capable. But Eliot was a believer in Reality and its power to transform.
Lent, like similar practices in many religions and “paths”, is above all meant to be a time in which we fearlessly invite Reality into our lives. Why? Because from Time Immemorial, wise persons have tried to tell us that Reality is the surest and most trustworthy path to Freedom and Wholeness, and to Love and Compassion.
Lent points to one thing: the celebration, in the Christian Story, of the Raising to Life of Jesus. Jesus arrived at both His death and His Raising to Life by fully, willingly and unconditionally embracing Reality. That one person achieved this is awesome enough. But there is an even greater thing we will celebrate on that Easter Day: our own embrace of Reality, our own death, our own Raising to Life.
Ash Wednesday is Step One to Resurrection to New Life for each and every one of us. Let us not be disappointed come Easter Day. May we make our Lent a greedy embrace of Reality - about ourselves, about everything. In this Lent may all bonds to delusion and falseness fall from our minds and hearts. May we have the will and courage to surrender to this “death”. I suggest this as the focus for our Lenten “40 days”; and that each day we do something to aim us unerringly to the Paschal Mystery: our oneness with God, the Alpha and Omega of all Life.
If we have managed even one step in dispelling Unreality and Fear, it will be an Easter Morning beyond any other!