There have been moments during this Lenten season when I felt as if a list of 40 Things I Can’t Find at the Grocery Store would have made more sense than journaling 40 Days of Gratitude. The world has changed drastically in ways that seem more like dystopian fiction than reality. The days of the week melt into one long collective moment of waiting. While the Lenten season encourages a pause, few of us have ever experienced such a drastic lifestyle change based on showing love for our neighbor by isolating ourselves from them. From “the last shall be first” to “It is in giving that we receive,” this new social norm reads like so many of the paradoxes that we find in scripture — the greatest being that through death we may have eternal life.
A lot of life doesn’t make sense. Perhaps it was never meant to. Like Jesus dying on the cross for the will of God, for the salvation of humanity, and out of merciful love for you and for me — maybe there is something greater to all of this — for all of us. More than ever, this Lenten season has taught me how to be okay with uncertainty. I may know less about life than I thought I did 40 days ago, but now I have more clarity about what it is I really need to know — all of which begins on the cross. There are a great many things to be thankful for this Easter, but what could be more important than that?
“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.” ~ Meister Eckhart
LENT DAY 36: I am thankful for words. They have the power to take us to far-away places and to ground us in the here and now. Words can console and affirm. In this time of social distancing, they connect us and remind us that the most important word, love, cannot be quarantined nor can it die. Love endures.
“It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:7).
LENT DAY 37: I am thankful for being a mother. Motherhood teaches us to endure beyond what we think is possible, wise, or just. It stretches us to the edge of sleeplessness, worry, and flat out aggravation. It rearranges priorities and for a good while household furnishings too.
But, my heavens does it teach us love! I can think of no better example of Christ’s love than the love we pour out for our children. A love that is both sacrificial and joyful. A love that is both boundless and bound for all time. A love that is forgiving and yet requires no apologies. A love with no conditions, no caveats, and no end.
It is the love that comes from God because it is the life that comes from God. What an incredible blessing. What an incredible God.
LENT DAY 38: I am thankful for everyday heroes. They battle over evils of apathy, ignorance, and selfishness by doing simple acts of kindness. They know that serving others isn’t just for warriors or royalty or storybook rescuers. True heroism is a simple willingness to love, serve, and not count the costs. It doesn’t require a cape or a mask. Just a big heart.
LENT DAY 39: I am thankful for guardian angels. I reckon it is a lot of work to be a guardian angel: to keep a vigilant watch, to catch someone before they fall, and to nudge wayward souls back onto a straight path. It’s probably akin to herding cats, raising teenagers, or trying to fold a fitted sheet. It’s kind of humbling to think someone loves us enough to bother with all that.
I imagine them flying high above me, with wings that hide me from harm, sharing a sliver of their serenity with the sordid world that surrounds. Lighting the path, pointing the way, and protecting us from the messes we so often make – all that we may join them someday. All, that we may soar to heaven’s gate.
My guardian dear, indeed.
LENT DAY 40: I am thankful for the resurrection. The weather is rainy and gloomy, and it looks as if the sun is hungover and couldn’t bother to rise today. It almost seems like a fitting way to begin Holy Week – especially amidst a debilitating and deadly pandemic. Despite the grim predictions, uncertainty, and empty-as-a-tomb sanctuaries, I can’t help but think about the joy that awaits. I can’t help but think about the rising in all of us.
Jesus did the impossible. He did the miraculous. He transformed death. The finality of it was made infinite. Hallelujah is our song. It may not always feel like it, but our time on earth is nothing but a rising. We are enduring people. Our suffering does not define us. Our injuries do not bind us. Challenge, adversity, and wounds cannot stop our ascent. “Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise,” (Micah 7:8). We are the Easter people. It’s not just Christ’s resurrection we have to celebrate, it is the possibility of our own. Easter isn’t just a day culminating the end of Lent. It’s an everyday. The shedding of our burdens, the surrendering of suffering at the foot of his cross, and the unification of our souls to his, is what makes our rising possible. It’s what helps us to remember that even in our brokenness, we are an Easter people and we still have wings to fly.
My dear friends, I know life is wonky right now but in some ways, it is surprisingly wonderful too. So please indulge me by letting me share one last bit of gratitude — for you. I love being a part of this community of the faithful. I am so grateful that you read these posts, comment, and share your own experiences. Please know that you are all in my prayers for peace and safety during these difficult times. May the lasting joy of the Resurrection be yours this Easter and always. ~ Lara