Once again, I had no plans to write today but here I am again. That is how it goes- the spirit leaps up and the words must come out.
As is my practice, I went off to daily mass today and was fortunate to be able to read the first Scripture selection, from the Second Book of Samuel. There is something about those verses that always get me; it is here where Absalom, King David’s estranged son and thought of as enemy, is slain. I can hear the plaintive cry in my heart of David,
“My son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you, Absalom, my son, my son!”
That’s the thing with David… He is in so many ways a huge screw up and yet he is God’s chosen king and ancestor of Jesus! This is what I love about our tradition, it can be so unconventional, although it doesn’t always seem that way. God uses us all to His good end and we as humans are so fixated on being perfect. Yet God lovingly chooses us with our incredible flaws and weaknesses and we are healed. However, that is a different topic for a different day. Back to focus…
Anyway, we also had the great Gospel from Mark, where we are treated to these spectacular healings. As Jesus pushes his way through the crowd on the way to heal Jairus’ daughter, a woman so desperate for healing, just longs to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment. She knows somehow in her heart that she will be healed, and of course she is.
However Jesus stops and calls her out – he wants to know who touched him. It must be a terrifying moment for her to have to reveal herself, because she probably broke more than one taboo by doing what she did. Hold that thought!
Then in the case of Jairus, by time they get there, it would appear the daughter is already dead. The Gospel speaks of the “weeping and wailing.” Have you ever heard Middle Eastern women mourn? Seriously. It is this loud, loud shrieking and wailing like you can’t imagine… I always think of those sounds when I read or hear this passage.
Jesus however says not to be afraid. And the girl is healed.
Father Butler began his homily with a question, as he often does. It was this sort of Q&A that first got me in trouble around here, or at least got me noticed when I mouthed off about something back in April in response to one of these questions.
The trick is with Father’s questions – we almost never, ever get the answers. That isn’t why he asks them that way, it isn’t to make anyone feel bad. It is a most powerful teaching tool.
So today he asks what the real illnesses were that got healed. It wasn’t just the physical, that was clear. I brought up doubt and despair, which Father spoke of and I wrote about yesterday. Um, no. That wasn’t it. People made their guesses. None hit the mark.
The real illness (doh!) turned out to be fear. And my wondering about what my Lenten journey might center on became very clear. How can I transform my fear into my faith? It is not a one shot deal; I’ve been working on it for years. I suspect I shall continue in that vein for many more.
Fear and sin, fear as sin. It just makes sense. I wrote about fear before in a post about grace, fear and the Annunciation.
This is a little different.
As we approach Ash Wednesday I will approach it with thoughts of how I can increase my faith, release my fear and continue to challenge that dynamic. And dynamic it is. We tend to want to see things in black or white, right or wrong, good or bad, ill or healed. It is a constant movement between the two I think.
This duality is really the place we live out most of our lives and it is one of the most challenging. And I am hoping that a journey into the heart of that this Lent will perhaps lead to deeper healing, deeper wisdom, deeper faith.
I may get myself together to share a story about faith and fear in the Holy Land, in the City of David actually. Perhaps within the next few days I can do that.
In the meantime, may we begin our Lenten journey with open minds and hearts, with our deep longing for God leading us through the desert.
I will close with a quote that frequent blog visitor and commenter Gartenfische mentioned recently. It really sums up the Lenten experience to me, I hope it speaks to you as well.
“No one escapes the wilderness on the way to the promised land.” -Annie Dillard
Peace to you all and a good Lent.