I have been watching the massive construction efforts on Genesee Avenue for weeks now as the main supports for San Diego’s new trolley tracks are being placed. First a massive drill is used to gouge out a deep, wide opening for the supports that will hold up the tracks. Then cylindrical wire frames are planted deep into those holes; eventually, they will be filled with concrete and made whole.
All around this construction work is driving mayhem as lanes are closed off and cars drive over deep ruts. And yet, all of this is being done to serve a greater good: a greener, cleaner form of transportation that benefits people of all economic classes and reduces traffic gridlock throughout San Diego.
If we allow it to happen, Lent can feel like a massive drill that creates deep, wide openings in us. It stirs up things inside of us, disturbs us, and moves us. But if we allow it to happen, we discover that God is lowering spiritual supports into us to make us stronger. And all of this work is done for some greater good, something that allows God’s Spirit to flow freely through us.
I don’t mean that Lent should disturb us in the sense of making us feel guilt or shame. Rather, it interrupts our natural routines, perhaps rattles our complacency about our beliefs or actions or words, and helps us to open up to a new way of being. It might be a small shift in our life, or it might be a large one. In any case, Lent is the Church’s way of opening us up to new spiritual support in our life.
Lent is also a sign of God’s solidarity with us when our life circumstances have broken us. One explanation of Christ’s suffering for us is that God identifies deeply with the pain of our mortal existence. You are not alone, Christ says. My arms are outstretched to reach down into you and support you. Lenten practices of quiet time, prayer, and Scriptural reflection can create that opening for God to comfort us in the midst of great turmoil in our lives. And church can be the support frame into which God pours love to sustain us.
I pray that this season of Lent increases our awareness of the tower of support we have in Christ and in one another.