Each year, I find some strand in the fabric and focus on it, keeping it in front of me for all the days of Lent and - when possible - from there forward. It's complicated, obviously. The Easter thing, Lent, the whole thing. There is so great an intimacy with pain and faith pressed into this ritual, if you tried to consume it all - even academically - at once it would make your head infinitely spin.
So as an adult, having come upon the need to reflect at about the same time I realized there was no way to ever resolve my complex feelings about the season, I set upon a different, more directed system.
This year I was particularly drawn to finding connection with the loss of a son.
It has left me sad and serious, filled with doubt.
I wonder how a deity could offer his son in sacrifice for the benefit of others. Would I do the same? Would I watch my child's deep pain, his abandonment, abuse and injury and not intervene? Could I allow him to accept my order to lose himself so that others might be found? As a deity would I know for certain that I could get him back? What if I had erred? Did the Lord have any of these doubts as he cast His son to the wicked?
Even while I have had this on me, in me and consuming my thoughts, I've held it all at bay, because I can honestly say I'm not strong enough to think about it any more deeply than what an arm's length examination allows. The loss of my own
son would ruin me in ways I am certain I am too feeble to even imagine.
I know I would doubt. I would doubt and likely choose, selfishly, cruelly, to keep my son to myself. I am weak, even though I convince myself of a real and abiding faith. I suppose we should all be grateful I'm not the gal who had to make the call. Then, too, we should be grateful that the truth is the truth and we shall all know it, whether for good or worse, some day.
I gave up hot water showers during the days of Lent. This, because I was trying to find a way to remind myself daily of the shock and despair of a lost son, so that I could in some tiny way empathize with that pain and bring myself closer to the true sacrifice. I failed, obviously, because I still can't take in that searing pain; no cold water could compare.
I am humbled (often) but always on this day as I am, again, unworthy of such sacrifice on my behalf and unable to recompense for such loss.
Perhaps I won't return to the hot-water shower tomorrow as I had planned.
Perhaps I could endure just one more day of cold water for a lost son.