Although my knee injury is improving, it’s still giving me trouble (see last week’s post) so this week’s reflection will be brief.
We are more than halfway through the holy season of Lent and I can’t say that I’ve observed the discipline very well. Fasting from sweets isn’t difficult for me, but fasting from unnecessary comments, especially the snarky ones, is much more challenging. That’s right. I’m not as sweet and inspiring in my daily life as you might think. I am, after all, human. Disappointing, right? I say that with all good humor because don’t we all wish that we were better than we are? Don’t we sometimes strive for perfection and actually think that we can attain it? We can’t. We are imperfect. We are limited. We are fearfully and wonderfully human.
I try to remember the sacred littleness of being human, especially when I fall short of my goals. Striving to be holy as God our Creator, Our Father, is holy is good and right and true and beautiful. Although perfect holiness will not be attained by us here and now, we are not destined to fail. God’s love will see us through. God’s love will carry us through all of our stumblings, our falls and missteps. As long as we keep following Him who goes before us — Christ — we will not fall away from the path of holiness, even if we often find ourselves tripping over the edges.
It’s like the Spring. For most people, snow is a difficulty, a burden, even an ordeal, which is why many New Englanders live their golden years in Florida. My parents and I, however, actually like the snow. We delight in its beauty and enjoy the winter months snuggled up in our warm home with big windows. Even we, however, are ready for Springtime once April comes. And Spring will come. It always does. That frozen white shroud will melt away, new streams will flow, and tender buds will grow into beautiful flowers that promise summer fruit. What seemed to be dead and gone will be revived, as green life returns to my blessed little spot of earth. It is knowledge of Spring’s inevitability that allows Winter to be beautiful and sweet — a heavy blessing, a life-giving burden of joy. Certain hope in Spring makes Winter thoroughly enjoyable to me.
Do I feel the same way about suffering?
Ah, there’s the rub.
As a faithful Christian, I have faith and hope in the Resurrection, in eternal life in the world to come, when all that seemed to be dead and gone will be revived as my soul returns to my glorified body. This is what I profess to believe, and so it should make this life here and now all the more beautiful and sweeter, even the difficult parts, the burdens and ordeals. In fact, knowledge of Heaven’s inevitability for those who believe should even make suffering sweet. What I mean is this: knowing that the melting away of suffering will yield the blossoming of bliss should enable me to find the beauty and even the delight in suffering while it lasts.
My faith, however, is not a rockhard certainty, perhaps it is not the rockhard certainty that it should be. Or perhaps, we can never have that kind of concrete, factual knowledge while we live and breathe here and now. Perhaps that’s not what faith is. Faith is a leap. Faith is a leap across a wide chasm to a further shore unseen. I am too little to see the other side. So are you. To be human is to be little, much like a flower in a forest unable to see the top side of the trees. But there is beauty in this unknowing too. Fighting against who we are as creatures will never enable us to truly live as images of God and be fulfilled in who we are created to be. I’m no angel. You’re no angel. We are creatures of flesh and spirit, body and soul, designed to live here and now in the terrible beauty of God’s magnificent and awe-inspiring Creation; to explore the tundra and the rain forest, the oceans and the mountains, the deserts and the blossoming valleys; to allow our divine Creator to shape us through our experiences, through even the Winters of our lives, so that He may bring us into full and glorious flower in His Eternal Spring.
The fact that we are little and need to trust does not make us less holy or less splendid. It makes us all the more loved by all-powerful God who is confident in our ability to bloom and is delighted by our soaring leaps of faith. The English word Lent means Spring. And it is most appropriate that most of the readings from the Old Testament have lately been about fertile growth, living waters, and springtime abundance. This is what we are preparing for. This is what awaits us after our brief sojourn here. In faith and hope, in all confidence, let us enjoy the tender beauty here and now and allow God to lead us into ever after.
Okay… That wasn’t so brief! What I wanted to say is that I have much to learn, but that’s what the discipline of Lent is for, that’s what being a disciple means. A disciple is a student. I am a student of life, God alone is my teacher.
(PS. Check out my YouTube channel this weekend for a birthday video. While you’re there, please subscribe! It makes a wonderful gift. 🙂 )
© 2019 Christina Chase
Although crippled by disease, I'm fully alive in love. I write about the terrible beauty and sacred wonder of life, while living with physical disability and severe dependency. A revert to the Catholic faith through atheism, I'm not afraid to ask life's big questions. I explore what it means to be fully human through my weekly blog and have written a book: It's Good to Be Here, published by Sophia Institute Press.