This Lent, one of the things I abstained from was reading the news. It had become something that created such frustration, conflict, anger, and other darkness inducing feelings like helplessness. I knew I needed a break so that I could spend time with God.
So instead, I started praying more, caring for myself more, and caring for my family more. Easter is on the horizon, but at times I feel as if joy has found me in Lent. Perhaps because in doing those actions, I recognize myself once again.
Every now and then though, I'll take a peek at the headlines, and the familiar gut-wrenching feelings return. Lent did not gift me ignorance or apathy. What it gave me was a truth that I need to be reminded of: My joy is not complete if I am unable to join Jesus in the darkness as well as the light. My joy exists because of a resurrected Christ that came after a crucifixion.
In today's Gospel, Jesus washes the feet of the apostles, knowing that He will soon be betrayed. There are a few lines that call out to my gut:
"Do you realize what I have done for you?
You call me 'teacher' and 'master,' and rightly so, for indeed I am.
If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet,
you ought to wash one another's feet.
I have given you a model to follow,
so that as I have done for you, you should also do."
These lines remain with me as I pray with the following quote during these last few days of Lent:
Don't look away. Don't look down.
Don't pretend to not see hurt.
Look people in the eye.
Even when their pain is overwhelming.
And, when you're in pain,
find the people who can look you in the eye.
We need to know we're not alone - especially when we're hurting.
Drawing closer to God during Lent has meant a renewal of my core identity - Blessed Beloved. The deep joy of that identity is not a fruit of what this world or culture points to as rubric for success or happiness. It's a fruit that comes from daring to participate fully in the paschal mysteries of my own life.
I needed this season and space to once again see God in the pain, to know His presence is there in helpless situations, and to fill myself with His grace once more so that I can follow Jesus wherever He may call me to even if it's to dark places so that I may be brought through them to get to hopeful places. I accept that when I return to a dark place in the future, I move through this cycle of passion, death, and resurrection and become present to a shared life with Him.
Dear Jesus, wherever we may be in our Lenten journey, draw us closer to you so that our joy may be complete. Amen.