Holy Week is upon us. I am decidedly not ready for it. Once again I have failed to observe Lent in the way I intended, one that honors the traditions that have guided Christians for many a century now. Every year I am drawn to the intention of it, the focus on contrition, and a pivot toward a truer me that reflects more fully the Light of Christ within.
I wanted to enter into confession and repentance this year, sensing those have not been active expressions of my faith for too long. I’m in a subculture that is uncomfortable with talking overly much about sin and one’s need to be saved from sin. Sure, my understanding of what I need to be saved from has shifted, but saving I need, maybe especially during this Lenten season.
I wanted to sit with both individual and systemic sins (ways I’ve not attended adequately to my privilege, my racism, my consumption). That desire got eclipsed by kidding season. My first kidding season. Clara and Sophie gave birth during Lent and things have not gone swimmingly.
If you will accept it, dear reader, I shall offer you my confession of sins committed during kidding season in this late hour of Lent.
I have sinned in my treatment of Sophie, a mama goat who rejected one of her kids. I have not been kind to her. No—the truth is that I have been unkind to her. I have not been gentle with her. Again—the actual truth is that I have been rough with her in my frustration. I have been distracted with worry about Clara, who gave birth prematurely to stillborn babies, gripped with worry about the rejected little buck, about this and that to endless and futile excess. I have let the kidding season consume me. So, I have been un-attentive to my husband (again, more truthfully, I have ignored him). I was distracted, at times, during sessions with my spiritual directees. I stopped caring about anything outside my little world of goats, so that broader struggles and strife in my community, country and world, and my complicit-ness in those matters have not had a place in my heart. I have not been grateful to the good gifts of God, I have not been gracious, patient or attentive.
Dear God, it feels good to admit that.
I can finally lay that burden down.
You, reader, may be inclined to excuse me, which is not your job. Your job is to listen for contrition, then to hear my confession of the deeds themselves, and then to listen for the pivot—the amend-making. Your default to excuse, while generous, is not what I need. I need you to hear my confession: I hurt animals and people in my anger, frustration, and fear. I repent and want to turn again to the heart of God.
I need saving from my sin—not from God’s wrath—but from my worst self. Lent has been a reminder of that for me this year. I am learning that I need the practice of confession and repentance in my life. Lord, forgive me for the things I have done that should not have been done, and for the things I have left undone that should have been done. May I turn and come again to that centered place, resting in your bosom, aware that you breathe with me every breath I take. May I be a conduit of your love, flowing outward to all people and creatures my life touches. And may I extend a special kindness to Sophie this day, and seek to know what is on Mark’s heart today. May I open myself again to a world of woe (and joy) outside the boundaries of our little farm, trusting that you hold it all in your loving gaze. Amen.
Yes--Holy Week ends with resurrection. The power of the cross reminds us that all is being made well. The outpouring of God’s love spilled out and created a universe, including a world that God entered as a human, living among us, showing us the face of God.
On Good Friday we remember another outpouring of God’s love. Jesus died the death of a rebel who stood with the poor and marginalized against political and religious powers that perpetuated oppression. Jesus emptied himself and died on a cross, and the emptying made room for us to enter that story, and to bear witness to resurrection that we might know something of the love, compassion, commitment and power of God. Yes, Easter is coming, and with it the hope that confession and repentance lead to renewal and restoration.
Helleborus (Lenten Rose)