Imagine for a moment you awake to find that your home has been almost virtually consumed by vines, branches, weeds and other flora. You cannot open the doors or windows to get out. Eventually you realize that you are stuck in this house. Your only way of seeing out is to try and find small breaks in the vines growing over the windows. You can see out but only in small slits and only with obstructions.
What you realize is that the outside world has become something new. It’s beautiful! It’s vibrant and alive with natural life. Animals periodically walk up to your window and lock their gaze with you. The breeze that you feel is fresh and new, no pollution, just clean air. You want to get out into this beauty but you can’t because of the heavy roots that have virtually lifted your home off of the ground. As much as you are afraid of this new world that sprung up over night you’re also enlivened by it, awed by it and inspired by it. But you can’t get out into it.
This is the Christian life: living in a world that is adjacent too, similar too, but also very different and inaccessible to you. Lent is the physical, chronological, real and metaphorical experience of those two realities of being a Christian: the present, and the not yet.
Enjoy the contemplation of Lent, the reflection on sin and the past, what is missing and what is desired. But always land on the not yet. Remember that you have all that you need to survive in this “cabin in the wilderness” (our life in this time) but that we are always trying to grab a glimpse of the “not yet” (heaven and a new earth). A place where life is present and uncontrollably vibrant. Where death has no foothold and where our daily experience is not one of loss and remorse but of fullness and gratitude.