Today we enter the season of Lent, a season of penance and reflection as we prepare our hearts and minds for the new life that comes with Easter.
I have been wracking my brain for creatives ways to take advantage of spending Lent in the Holy Land. However, I found out yesterday that due to the continuing saga of my visa, I will not be spending most of Lent in Israel/Palestine.
My current visa expires next week and I must leave the country. My itinerary is still developing, but I will be sure to let you know as things progress. I am disappointed to leave this place I am learning to call home for an unknown amount of time, especially at such a time that would be so significant to spend here. But certainly the spiritual meaning is not lost by my current situation. I will now be a wanderer throughout Lent, much like Jesus wandering in the desert. I will not have a place to settle, much like the ancient Israelites lost in the wilderness. This is a new stage in my journey, with new lessons to learn and new ways to grow closer to God.
I have learned so much in the past almost 6 months. As I received ashes today to symbolizes my repentance, I reflected on my own sinful thoughts and the ways in which redemption for those thoughts have brought me to better understanding of what it means to be a Christian in this world. At times, I have been guilty of all the things in the following litany but certainly not only because I live in a foreign culture. Such thoughts can flash across our minds, if only for a second, wherever we find ourselves in the world. Injustice, oppression, and privilege exist everywhere.
When we fail to see Christ in the other; Lord have mercy.
When we let anger, even righteous indignation, prevent a gracious response; Lord have mercy.
When we fail to recognize our own privilege; Lord have mercy.
When we struggle and fail to relinquish our own privilege; Lord have mercy.
When we attempt to rank human suffering and injustice rather than recognize that injustice anywhere is related in injustice everywhere; Lord have mercy.
When, in our attempts to love the other, we reduce them to an easy-to-understand stereotype; Lord have mercy.
When we forget that the oppressed are nothing more or less than human too and expect them to be perfect; Lord have mercy.
When we forget that the oppressor is also human and not beyond the reaches of God's grace; Lord have mercy.
When we are the oppressor; Lord have mercy.
When we fail to take the log out of our own society's eye before removing the fleck of dust from another's; Lord have mercy.
When we hide in easy answers out fear of complexity; Lord have mercy.
When we tire of our call to be exiles and strangers in a strange land; Lord have mercy.