By Rev. Rose M. Blank St. Paul United Methodist Church, La Porte City
“Ash Wednesday and we are on our way to Your Way.” That’s how author Ann Weems begins one of her reflections in her book, Kneeling in Jerusalem. “O Lamb of God, have mercy on us and keep us from all the smallness of our lives that would take precedence over kneeling in Jerusalem.” (p. 18) We can’t celebrate fully the wonder of Easter without these 40 days of this Lenten journey we began last week.
This journey is one of confession, repentance, and forgiveness, a journey that sometimes takes us to places we would rather not go. We may have to go to the dark places in our soul, the hardness of our heart, or our selfishness in the face of the many who are in great need. Yet, ultimately, this is a journey in which we follow in the footsteps of Christ, the one who gave himself up for us that we might find life anew.
Several years ago I was in Jerusalem, not long before the Lenten season began. One of the more powerful experiences we had was to walk the path that Jesus took to the cross, the Via Dolorosa, the Way of Sorrows. The Stations of the Cross marked the Way along the brick and stone lined streets, reminding us that we were “on our way to Your Way.” The path was crowded with people making their way to the markets and going about their everyday activities. At first it was rather disturbing because in my mind this was holy ground and the sacredness of it was being disrupted by chatter and routine business. But isn’t it the same for us as we let “the smallness of our lives” take precedence over our time of quiet and reflection that is so crucial to this Lenten season?
During these weeks, we can make intentional efforts to be open to God’s work in us that takes us beyond this smallness of our hearts to a closer relationship with Christ. There may be some rough stones along the way, some broken bricks that threaten to trip us, some valleys to descend, a few steep hills to climb and some crowds to confront. The gift in all of this is that we don’t make this journey alone. We find encouragement from our brothers and sisters in Christ who accompany us as we turn our lives to the One who models faithfulness for the journey.