Lent had begun on Wednesday. Lent is not an event nor an occasion. Lent is a grace-filled period. It is a period for contemplation and action, each day consciously lived with Lenten intent will lead us into a spiritual discovery, or rediscoveries. We must go through Lent, not allow Lent to go through us. A good Lent is this conscious living, an unbroken awareness through the 40 days that takes us inward and deeper into the wilderness of our self.
“Slowly pull back from this material world and travel within”. I stumbled upon these words from a Hindu friend on Ash Wednesday. It had nothing to do with Catholic Lent… She was talking about Vanaprastha, a stage in lifewhich one decides to enter, where “one gives up worldly life”, or literally “retiring to forest”… But maybe it did.
On the outside, Lent is the Church journey towards the Easter Triduum, through the suffering and death, and eventually to the resurrection of Christ. On the inside, it is our own personal journey through all of life adversities to our own resurrection, the many fallings and risings, the much suffering and eventual joys. Lent is this opportunity to make sense of our past and to “Grow in understanding of the riches hidden in Christ” (Today’s collect).
A good Lent is this travel within. As we aged through worldly life, apart from accumulating experiences we also accumulate crosses. We all reach a stage when these accumulated crosses begin to ask questions inside us. There always seem to be an ongoing ceaseless battle between worldly life and the forest. Is there more to worldly life than meets the eye? A travel within is to make sense of our life within this material world.
In the body he was put to death, in the spirit he was raised to life, and, in the spirit, he went to preach to the spirits in prison. (Second Reading)
A spirit preaches in us. The spirit is asking the questions. Joy and suffering are inseparable twins in worldly life, and the material world is a necessary journey. The crosses we accumulate over time form prison cells in us. Hurt, anger, unforgiveness, desires for revenge and bitterness are cells that hide the riches of the Resurrection. Lent is this conscious journey to retreat into the forest to repair, rejuvenate, renew and be released. Entering the forest is entering into a conscious dialogue with the spirit.
“See, I establish my Covenant with you, and with your descendants after you”. (First Reading)
In Lent we listen again to this covenant. A covenant since Noah, manifested in the most privileged way through the birth, death, and resurrection of Christ: He is present in the most personal and intimate way, with us through the ups and downs of our worldly life. A good Lent is a continuous “travel within” for 40 days, going pass our past, revisiting old events and realizing and rediscovering God in our life, more so than we ever thought. It is the opportunity to embrace once again his Covenant with us.
Lent is spiritual detox, to sieve out sediments left by the material world and remove the corruption of values and belief. When we travel deep into our wilderness, we will reach our forest where we see our own personal rainbow made for us, coloured above all the trials and tribulations of our life. Here beneath our rainbow, the spirit will preach, “The kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News.” (Today’s Gospel)
First Sunday of Lent
Written as a prayer offering for the intentions of Jeanette Balhetchet, Margaret Johnson, Joan D’Cotta, Agnes Ng, A. Selvarani and the Landings community.