As they say, “time marches on” and that is certainly true as I received in the mail yesterday a reminder that later this year I will need to sign up for Medicare. I haven’t officially hit my 64th birthday, yet here is a health care provider getting their foot into the door. Yes, time does march along, it’s drumbeat pounding in the background urging us forward as the drummer boys urged the troops as they marched into a hail of bullets and shrapnel. The march most of us are on is not at all that dangerous but in many ways we are all headed for the same destination, whether we like it or not. The temptation is to ignore this and live life to its maximum, filled with all of its hedonistic pleasures or we can take stock of where we are at these points and begin to live a deeper life. This mailing is that reminder that I will soon be turning another page in this novel that is my life story. Like any novel, if it is good you want to get to that next page to see where the characters are headed, will there be love or tragedy, will they reach the impossible destination or defeat the ultimate villain? There is that part of me that wants to turn the page, to get on with that next chapter but there is also that part of me that wants to savor the moments I have right now, the love I have, the warmth of a home, the simple pleasures of friends and family. These are not moments to rush through but like a great meal, to be taken in small bites, chewed throughly so that the texture and taste can satisfy the very depths of our souls.
Lent starts next Wednesday, it’s a time to take stock of where we are, it’s the 40 day journey into the wilderness where we are faced by many temptations. Unlike the start of a New Year where we make resolutions, that may or may not be fulfilled, this Lenten journey requires us to face up to our fears, in many ways we are passing through the wardrobe into the winter world of Narnia. Our choice is simple, seek out the great lion or yield to the gift of Turkish taffy. The taffy is easy, all we need to do is sell a piece of our own integrity and reach out, the search for the lion is difficult, that journey requires more than the physical it requires the spiritual strength that resists the easy route.
Maybe that’s why we give up or fast from certain items during Lent. Fasting is a way of cleansing ourselves as we prepare for the Easter event, but Lent is also a time to take on a discipline, to challenge ourselves, to stretch our spiritual muscles. This Lent, I’m going to make the daily effort to write, not just about the mundane facts of my life but the deeper, spiritual parts that affect my inner self. Will it be pretty? I doubt that, anytime we expose those deeper parts, those feelings that affect us, it can look like a forest after a fire, blackened and bleak. Yet, it’s after the fire that new life begins to grow, small green shoots that break through the black crust reaching upward toward the light and warmth of the sun. In the messiness of all that is around there is that grace we do not deserve, nourishing and feeding us as we grown new roots, fed by springs of new water.