In the movie Jet Li’s Fearless, there’s a time in the story where an angry, lost and broken martial artist whose life has spiraled out of control finds himself in small farming village as a stranger. In this village every time the wind blows the whole community stops what they are doing and takes in the breeze. At first, he has no clue why people are stopping anything and everything to enjoy the peace of the breeze. Much of his life before this moment was him flaunting his strength and exacting vengeance on his foes. In this community he finally “gets it.” He is able to start his path to healing and reconciliation by being more mindful and humble. He is able to start pausing for the breeze and appreciating it for what it is. He didn’t learn this because the village was filled with perfect people with easygoing lives. He learned it because they met him where he was in his life, then showed him kindness and mercy that allowed their community to exist.
So after a miserable flu season, short days marked with cold weather, we then get marked with ashes reminding us how very frail we really are and then we make a pledge to give up something that gives us comfort (like chocolate) or take up a contemplative practice. Lent can be tough in this part of North America. Even in California with it’s warm weather, everyone there may be giving up long showers and tap water for Lent as they deal with a history breaking drought. It can be an intense season for anyone with high peaks and valley like lows.
There’s doubt and fear of not being able to keep a lenten promise, moodiness from fasting and/or time constraints as you try to get into the practice of praying more. On the other hand there’s the hope and joy of the resurrection when you realize you didn’t self destruct by giving up coffee for 40 days. Also, you were able to pray more which made the injustices of life easier to tackle. Plus, this didn’t happen in isolation. In church, amongst facebook friends, on the job, in yoga, a few other souls are going through this season as well and we find strength and camaraderie in knowing we are not alone.
In this period of reflection and humility that Lent creates, may we experience the peace of God like a comforting breeze as individuals and a community.
written by MCB, an ordinary lay person in the church who loves sitting in the back row.