Lent is a dirty spiritual season. It's for adults only. It is not neat or pure or virginal.
Lent is a mess. It is a cluttered mind, and a scorched soul. It is sweat stained and stinks. It has worked hard, probably too hard. It has labored at listening to losses. It is bewildered. Lent is often a walk taken while lost, and prone to wandering in circles.
Lent is a desert, a wilderness, a whirlwind of utter mystery.
Too many spiritual folks equate being spiritual to being dipped in a bucket of white paint. In Life, there is little that is raw white. Skin is never bright white. The sky and sea may contain a cloud or a wave dipped in white, but on the whole those are no more than a speck or a smudge. At Pentecost, church bulletins frequently show the wings of a dove, so brilliantly bright and white, it makes us wince.
I think it would be far wiser, more Lenten, and more honest, if the dove wings were tattered and caked in mud. Spirituality is seldom a soar or a sail; mostly, it is one long slog. The trouble with faith these days is that we no longer even know why they call Good Friday “good”, or why the last supper was truly the last.
Religious folks want to skip Lent and go straight to Easter, as if believing was like a get out of jail card in Monopoly.
There are no free passes in this Life of ours, except for the all of it, our lives which are built upon a solid foundation of Grace. Still, the living of our days requires lots of work and effort and tragedy and failure and despair and trauma, and a host of other assorted difficult junk, all of which makes many of our days, well -- damn difficult.
But, if you stare long enough at a dirty dove wing, you soon will be able to imagine the journey, the blue skies and sparkling sunlight, a shining moon or star, and the freedom of it, the climbing and the diving, and then you will appreciate how every splatter of dirt and grime, every mocking storm, was required.
Lent is a pilgrimage into wholeness, not perfection.
O, Lord of Lent, may our wings be muddied and some of our feathers torn, so that we will know how far we have come, and how far there is still to go. Amen.
Reverend William R. Grimbol has spent the past 30+ years helping people create and develop strong spiritual connections with loved ones and God. He is also a published author, with over a dozen books to his credit.