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Lenten devotional - day 26

I wanted to say a little more about losing our lives to gain life and love in its fullness. “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” You know who said that. The same one who said that, said in a different gospel, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.”

I can’t believe how some people go about interrupting those verses (when they take what is life and make it something exclusive and bitter and lifeless), but I’m not going to worry about that. I know what they mean for me. I have to lose my life, my life of pride, my life of desire, my life of wanting to fill the holes in my soul with the next best thing.
So much of that life isn’t worth living, and we know it. I compare myself to others, and never try to be myself. I become envious at other people’s successes, instead of having sympathetic joy for them. I buy things I don’t need, and barely want, instead of using my resources to be a blessing to others. I spend hours on the internet instead of celebrating the beauty that is all around me.

There is a different way to be. The way of Christ—which means nothing else and nothing less than to be like Christ. I can notice the birds of the air, and the flowers in a field. I can find ways to keep wedding parties going, and see the needy and be a blessing (or better yet, reveal God’s glory through them, as Jesus said). This way of living takes us to the One Jesus called Father, and is the Divine reality, the Ground of Being, and the Infinite Ocean of Love.

Hafiz wrote in a poem, “I am a hole in a flute that the Christ’s breath moves through. Listen to this music.” I am a hole, an absence, a nothing, that when filled with Christ’s breath makes music. I must lose my life to find real life, no longer filling the holes in my soul, but letting those holes grow until I become an instrument of divine music.

The world tells us we must produce to matter, that there are those who are more essential than others, and some who do not matter at all. This is not true, but there is truth Jesus shows. The next line Jesus uttered after saying no one comes to his Father except through him is, “If you know me, you will know my Father too.” And we see God in Jesus. We see God in the truth, that to Jesus everyone is essential. We see God in the truth, that to Jesus our wealth means nothing if we don’t add to the healing of the world. We see God in the truth, that to Jesus we are amazing beyond our wildest imaginations, and that from our living, miracles can happen. But, there is so much I’ve been taught is true I must lose to know the truth that takes me to the Father.

Mary Oliver wrote, “Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” She knew something of this truth, that everything and everyone is worth our attention and astonishment, and I will add, our love.

Again Hafiz wrote, “Love sometimes wants to do us a great favor: hold us upside down and shake all the nonsense out.” The God of Love wants to shake all the nonsense out that we learn when we live in these cultures of death and despair; so we can pay attention, and be astonished, and love it all, and tell about how wonderful it is.

Because the truth of life is, it is wonderful. Twice this week I’ve said goodbye to people moving and get to be glad I’ve journeyed with them. I’ve sat with people and shared wonderful conversations. I’ve been taken care of by my family when I’ve been exhausted. I’ve heard stories of terror, and stories of beautiful kindness in the terror. I’ve grown closer to people, and made some new friends. I’ve watched birds dance in the air. I’ve seen my children become…

Since I’m feeling like quoting poets, here’s one more from the poet and psychoanalyst Clarissa Pinkola Estés, “The most important thing is to hold on, hold out, for your creative life, for your solitude, for your time to be and do, for your very life; hold on, for the promise from the wild nature is this: after winter, spring always comes.” Lent and its journey to the cross and the resurrection teaches this truth of life: spring always comes. Life gets to be tragic and wonderful and tragic and wonderful over and over. This life takes us to the Father over and over. Lent helps us over and over.

This way, this truth, this life that Jesus offers brings us to God in the here and now. I must lose my life to gain life, and know love in its fullness. I wish this for both of us. I wish this for everyone.

Until tomorrow now my friend,