Lent is a time when we follow our Savior into the arid, exposure of the desert, and offer our service, fasting and prayer. We go without so that others may go away with, and so that we might remember to return and thank the Giver from whence it first came. We remember the darkness so we can dance the in the light of the Son.
Since I am blessed enough at the moment to have my job be my home and family, my day’s are consequently filled with service: organizing, shuttling, sandwich artistry, laundry transferring, refereeing and, well, wiping. And since I hit the lotto twice in one decade, I also stumbled into an incredible marriage that is all about service…a beautiful, exhausting, two way street of care, prayer and cheerleading. Grace piled upon provision, heaped upon joy. To whom much is given, much nose blowing, dust busting, and ass grabbing is required.
Then there is fasting. I would argue that most of us fast pretty regularly in one way or another, in an obligatory fashion. People around me are starving for things they’d never imagined being deprived of, suspended in time. Waiting for their husbands to awaken from comas. Waiting for life altering surgeries to heal. Waiting to finally see a positive on a pregnancy test. Waiting to fall in love. My friends caring for newborns have resigned themselves to so little sleep that their sanity is routinely ambiguous. I personally have given up being able to finish even one adult conversation without having to yell “sonofabitch, so-and-so’s messing with the _______ (enter applicable noun; i.e. garbage, toilet, post-man etc).” Although ranging in severity, one could argue that fasting is effortlessly accessible in this imperfect quarter of the universe. The key is allowing our suffering to turn us to Christ, over and over.
For me though, the hardest part of engaging in this season of intentionality is making time to be alone with God. Intimacy is a choice, and a challenging one at that. Intimacy, when crowds are pressing in (I write this standing at the kitchen island while my one year old literally sucks on my shin). Like many other pastimes that are undeniably beneficial, I am never sad that I set aside moments to worship and listen, but often just getting there is an insurmountable task.
Jesus was left broken on Calvary practically alone. He was abandoned by his family and friends, and the twelve were nowhere to be found. But Joseph of Arimathea boldly asks Pilot to take possession of his shattered body, and then tenderly prepares it for burial out of his own resources. What a sacred, worshipful act. If one of my sons lost their lives, and I couldn’t be with them in that moment, I would hope desperately that there was someone there to whisper prayers in their ears, and to touch and dress them gently. This painting, “Burial” is a meditation on this moment…a reminder that even in one of the darkest chapters of the Easter story, this man took a breath to come to the feet of Christ and offer of himself. I humbly pray for the reverence to do the same.