Seeing Ourselves: Lent, Psalm 32, and a Virus
Dear Kaleid Women,
How much can change in a week, right? We know you feel with us the disorientation that this past several days has stirred up, uncovered, created, or exacerbated. We are with you, and we pray that a spirit of God’s gentle love has found you in the quiet places, in between the chaotic moments of upturned daily life.
Today’s invitation is to stop, breathe, be grounded in the enduring invitation into God’s love by way of the enduring narrative of the Church.
First, Lent. There’s a saying on social media that makes us laugh: “I gave up Lent for Coronavirus.” It’s so true that we are all in a position where our self-imposed fasting or self-disciplined habits seem flimsy at best (and a bad idea at worst) when held up to the urgent force of externally imposed limits we are experiencing right now. It’s helpful to remember what we know about Lent as a season. Primarily, that it grounds us in the rhythms of a community of believers (a “great cloud of witnesses”) who have practiced fasting and feasting, deprivation and abundance, isolation and celebration as important spaces of growth and healing in the lives of those who follow Jesus. This forced fasting, this directed deprivation, this uncomfortable isolation can be a healing space for us, too.
As Dallas Willard wisely taught, fasting helps us do “live and do our work from the hand of God...fasting is one way of seeking and finding the actual kingdom of God present and active in our lives.” Fasting--whether forced by viruses or chosen as a practice--can help us to feast on God.
Second, a return to Psalm 32. We find it encouraging that, at the end of this psalm of confession and forgiveness that we have been looking at together for the last few weeks, there is a reminder of God’s faithful guidance and a call to the community of faith to rejoice in His faithful love.
I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
Do not be like a horse or a mule, without understanding,
whose temper must be curbed with bit and bridle, else it will not stay near you.
Many are the torments of the wicked,
but steadfast love surrounds those who trust in the Lord.
Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.
God is a patient and wise teacher. His way with us is to instruct, teach, and counsel. When we feel flummoxed by the confusion of life (normal life or virus life) we are able to come with open hands and listening ears to a God who promises guidance to all who seek. (James 1:5)
And, at the end of the day, as those surrounded by the steadfast love of a forgiving, protecting, guiding God, we can join our voices with the voices of other saints--known and unknown--as we feast on God’s care, even in difficult seasons of fasting. We are not alone, and our solitary sacrifice of praise can remind us of that very potent, healing truth.
We love you,
The Kaleid Team
P.S. If you slow down to absorb one thing today, please let it be this beautiful rendition of St. Patrick’s “Breastplate Prayer” by artist Jean Watson. The saints who have gone before us have much to offer in this time.