Archive for the ‘Easter’ Category

40 Days Later

Sunday, April 4th, 2010

At the start of Lent, I wrote how much I needed it this year. I needed that special time to fast and sacrifice and focus on my relationship with God. I also took on a challenge with my home – to get 40 bags worth of stuff out of my house. While many around me questioned whether I could accomplish that goal, I persevered. I marshaled the help of my family members. One item at a time, one bag at a time, four trips to my local donation center later, the mission was completed Holy Saturday. I would like to say that my house is now spotless, that we are free of clutter and now living a minimalist lifestyle. The sad reality is that my house is still rather cluttered. In fact, someone walking into it probably wouldn’t notice much difference at all. There are still a couple things I need to get rid of, but that won’t do much for the clutter, either.

Most of the stuff I got rid of was stuff that was hidden away. There were so many things in closets and cabinets and that catch-all of places, my basement. Going through it all was like doing a review of my life. I had done a large purge five years ago when I moved, but in some ways, this one was more thorough. I was forced to truly evaluate each item, whether it still had any value to me, if it could serve someone else better, or if I just needed to throw it in the recycling bin (as much as I might like to think otherwise, there is no one on earth that needs to read papers I wrote in college.) I wondered why I was so determined to do this now. Why was this the right time? I’m still not sure. It did help with one thing. When my basement flooded Holy Thursday morning thanks to all the rain my corner of the world received recently, it didn’t do hardly any damage. Nothing was ruined because that area of my basement was already cleaned out! That was a blessing in and of itself. Was there some greater purpose? That I don’t know.

Yet, I can’t help but think that this cleaning project was a metaphor for my soul. In Lent, I got rid of some major things. I did a lot of soul cleaning and refocusing my priorities. I went to confession twice. I knelt down in prayer and begged for direction. I would like to say all the clutter is gone, that my soul is now a prime example of cleanliness. It’s not. Forty days later and much like my house, I’m still a mess. I’m a little better for the effort. Perhaps some of the things that were hidden in the deep recesses have been cleared out. Thirty-five years of life have led to a lot of build-up. There are all those things that I have just buried away, perhaps waiting for a better time to deal with them, or I simply wasn’t ready to let go. Some things I’m still holding onto. Just as with my physical dwelling, the process is far from complete.

So, here I am, 40 days later. Easter was meaningful this year, much more so than in some other years. Every year Lent brings its own unique experience. Maybe I was looking for too much, both with my house and my soul. After all, 40 days is only 40 days. Yet, I made some progress. I need to be thankful for that and know that this is something I can keep working on.

What if You are Still in the Desert?

Sunday, April 12th, 2009

The Lord is Risen! Alleluia! The Church on Easter Sunday was festively decorated. Flowers were everywhere. The purple was gone. The Easter Candle was shining brightly. The “Gloria” and “Alleluia” were sung with great enthusiasm. There was joy and celebration everywhere! This is as it should be.

If only life was as neat as the Church’s liturgical seasons! We could spend six weeks in the desert and then wake up one day and be free of all the temptations, all the sin, and all the pain and suffering. We could lay all our pain at the feet of the Risen Jesus and be rid of it forever. Life isn’t that simple, however. Many times, our desert experiences last much longer than forty days. Sometimes, it seems like we spend more time in the desert than anywhere else. At times like this, it can be hard to truly celebrate the Easter season. It can be difficult to rejoice in the Risen Lord when He seems nowhere to be found. What, then, is a heart and soul to do?

It is in those days in the desert that loving and rejoicing in Jesus becomes an act of the will. We can choose to believe, choose to rejoice, and choose to love. Mother Teresa provides an incredible example of a person who continued to rejoice in the Lord for decades even though she experienced no consolation. Her faithful service provided the world with so much goodness and so much fruit, yet her own heart was hurting. She believed that God loved her even when she could not feel that love. She continued to pray and place herself in God’s presence. Mother Teresa continued to trust in the Divine will.

We can do the same. Even when we don’t feel God’s love, even when we are in the midst of pain and suffering, we can continue to pray and lay our sorrows at the feet of the Lord. We may not feel like celebrating, but we can force ourselves to focus on the wonder of the Risen Lord. Jesus loved us so much he died to save us from our sin! He rose from the dead to conquer the greatest pain life has to offer. We have the gift and the promise of eternal life! How can we not rejoice? There is hope of a brighter tomorrow. In the midst of our days in the desert that hope may be the greatest gift of all.