Lenten Devotion - day 15
There is an important piece of any Lenten practice that I’m not sure I’ve mentioned. Maybe I have, but ADHD makes it hard for me to remember anything I write. Then again, if this theme is a repeat, it certainly deserves more consideration, and it certainly goes along with yesterday’s letter and I can remember that far.
Surrender. There is perhaps no theme better suited for Lent than surrender. Surrender is a central theme for most spiritual traditions, and ours included. It involves letting go of our attachment to control and embracing the unknown… the great mystery.
Surrender is exemplified in the life and teaching of Jesus the Christ. He surrendered himself to the will of the One who sent him, even to the point of death on a cross. He taught those who followed him to surrender their own wills and desires to the Divine reality, and trust that God would provide for them (providence). Trusting in God’s providence (I really prefer saying “trusting God will provide”; providence is such a loaded term in theological circles, so let’s keep it simple and remember the word “provide” is in “providence”), is a difficult teaching, but one that brings great peace and freedom.
Likewise, for our Buddhist siblings, surrender is a key aspect in the path to enlightenment. The Buddha taught that suffering arises from our attachment to desires and aversions, and that true liberation comes from letting go of these attachments and embracing the present moment. This is the essence of surrender.
In our own lives, and certainly in our culture, surrender can be a difficult and even terrifying concept. We are often taught in this world to strive for success, control, and security; so surrender can feel like giving up on these goals. But true surrender is the opposite of giving up. True surrender is about opening ourselves to the deeper wisdom, guidance, and love of God.
Lent—the annual springtime of our souls (I remember that letter too)—is an ancient invitation that comes every year. We are invited again to surrender ourselves to the mystery of the cross. Don’t bother with those who think they know everything about the cross. It is a mystery of love and grace that holds us, we cannot possibly hold the mystery. We must fall into the mystery and trust. Will we?
Surrender is not an easy journey, but it is a necessary one. Surrender will require us to confront our fears and our doubts, and lean into the unknown with courage and faith. When we do so… well we will find what I think Rumi meant when he wrote, “You are not a drop in the ocean, you are the ocean in a drop.” We will find peace, and freedom, and connection, and a lot of what Jesus says in the gospel of John will make sense like never before.
Right now both of us are being invited to embrace the call to surrender. It’s Lent after all. So if not now when? Both of us are invited to trust that God will provide, and to surrender to Divine wisdom and guidance. Both of us are invited to let go of our attachment to control and outcomes. Both of us are invited to open ourselves to the transformative power of love and grace, even in the midst of pain and suffering that is the cross.
This surrender is a journey that won’t happen all at once. We will be invited again next year too. Truth be told, we are always invited to surrender.