This Wednesday marks the beginning of the liturgical season of Lent, when we return to familiar themes like wilderness, repentance, fasting, and the archetypal journey from death to resurrection.
None of these are static categories that remain unchanging from year to year. What might we learn, in 2019, from the wild expanse and ferocious clarity of wilderness? What are we being individually and collectively called to repent from—and turn toward—here and now? In such a time as this, how do we follow Jesus’s example of yielding ourselves to the movement of transformation and shared healing?
These are not simply questions to be wrestled with in the quiet solitude of personal devotion. Instead, we believe that Lent is also a time to turn toward each other and affirm the humanity of the people around us. The humanity of Jesus was perhaps most evident in the wilderness, amid the gauntlet of temptation, and that is where we are called to embrace our own humanity as well—to hunger, to thirst, to wander in pursuit of clarity and calling.
We believe, then, that in an era when the humanity of some is daily thrown into question, when we’re encouraged to double down on the division between us and them, Lent is a call to resistance. It is an insistence that collective renewal will only come when we are all allowed to be human, to express our particular needs and deepest desires, and to witness together how the image of God is uniquely revealed in each of us. This defiant act of resistance will force us to confront the power structures of our society, defying the systems that seek to benefit from the suppression of humanity.
That’s what we’ll be wrestling with on the blog this month. Together we’ll consider the movement of a wilderness pilgrimage and a return to service. And we will invite each other to wonder what repentance might look like in the particularity of this moment—whether that’s repenting for the ways we have aligned ourselves with de-humanizing systems, or choosing to affirm the parts of our identity that have been violated and maligned for too long. This is weighty, complex work, and none of us can do it alone, so we will also be exploring the crucial category of resilience and the realities of fatigue and burnout.
Some of you may look forward to Lent as a season of recalibration each year, and maybe you’ve already chosen something to “give up” or fast from for these 40 days. For others, maybe you’ve already had more than enough taken from you, and you resist the idea that giving something up is even a choice for you. Wherever you are on this journey, we hope you will join us as we listen together to what God might be saying through the wild and broken parts of our world.
Peace to you as you read this and embark on the coming season, and peace to your hunger, your thirst, your desire, and everything else that makes you human.