Today, Palm Sunday, we finish Lent and walk into Holy Week. It’s been a Good Lent.
A couple of weeks before Lent started, I was given a penance, if it can be called that, of “staying with the question.”Â What kind of penance could that be? For me, it is a real command to change, and practice change. My first choice when faced with an unanswerable problem is to run and hide in a closet and hope the whole mess disappears. “Staying with the problem” means I can’t do that at all. It means I have to hold the problem, the issues, the situation and sit with it.
Our theme for Lent this year was “Listen, Reflect, Receive.” I didn’t know about this theme until after I got my marching orders, but it sounds a lot like reinforcing my goal of staying with the problem. And so, I have spent the past few weeks trying to listen: to myself, to those around me, to the situation(s) in general. I’ve tried to hear that which hides behind words and deeds.
I listened to the gospel reading last week which was the one about Lazarus dying and being called back from the tomb after 4 days. I read the reflection on that reading in Raising of Lazarus over on Creo en Dios! In that gospel, Susan heard strongly the words of Thomas the Doubter. Me, I heard Martha breaking down and, I imagine, almost screaming at Jesus – “If you had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died!” Sometimes, it’s so hard to listen when we hurt. Sometimes, I really can’t listen until I put my frustration into words and say it out loud. Maybe that’s what Martha had to do – before she could come to the point of listening and realizing that she did believe that Jesus was “the One.”
After listening, comes reflection. In the Lazarus story, Martha does that as well. When Jesus begins to question her, she finds herself in a spot to reflect on what she knows and believes. And, so it happens with me. I spit things out, and then if I’m lucky, someone listens and moves me to reflect on those feelings and what and why they are. That can happen in prayer, but God seems to meet me where I am and often provides another human being to play that role – to be the mirror for me.
And I find it encouraging that Martha, who was so upset, is the one who also receives the gift of faith – she is the one in the story who proclaims – “Yes, Lord, I believe…”
And so Lent has gone for me this year. There have been doors that have started to open, even if only a bit.Â I have tried to stay with the problem, stay in the moment, not run and hide (that was my penance after all). And in doing so, my ears have been opened just a bit, and I have both reflected on what I have seen and heard as well as stayed there to see my reflection in the mirror, and it seems that has allowed me to receive some peace.