“Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD; LORD, hear my voice!” Ps. 130: 1-2

Lent is often depicted in the Christian tradition with dry and barren images of the desert. For a long time, I could not appreciate the value of these visuals because they made me uncomfortable. How can emptiness and image-lessness be appealing when we are surrounded by a culture of appetizing images and instant gratification? A personal experience demonstrates this point.

Lately, I have been turning to Netflix and online games for temporary satisfaction. I justified them by telling myself that I deserve a little bit of fun. At other times, I would place quick judgments on a family member instead of trying to understand her situation. I gained pleasure from being right, saying to myself, “What she did is wrong, and I don’t want to associate with her.” These little satisfactions made me feel good for that moment, and soon it became harder to say no. Little by little, I fell further into the traps of my own ego.

Lent is a time to become uncomfortably and painfully aware of these times when I yielded to my false identity. These unhealthy thoughts/habits isolated me from my true self and prevented me from connecting with others. They are subtle temptations that feed my need for instant satisfaction. Because I fill my life with such pleasures, I forget that my being comes from God – in whom my true self is sustained.

This season, I sense a deep cry inside that gently but persistently calls me to return to the desert. Here, my soul can shed the false illusions and willfulness that ruled me. I become empty in this barren place of nothingness and wait on God to come and fill my soul.

Lord, my soul longs for you. Help me remember that in you alone I will find true joy.

Van Nguyen