Beyond A Great Illusion
LENT BEGINS on Ash Wednesday, March 5th. It’s very easy to get wrongheaded about that special time before Easter called Lent. It’s so easy to see it as something it is not and trying to use it to do something that can’t be done.
Put simply, we usually think of ourselves, on every level, as being ‘separated’ from God; as apart from our Creator. Because of this, we tend to regard worship as that which ‘closes’ this infinite gap between ourselves and God. There is a perspective and a level of reality at which this is true. The shortcomings of our human nature does separate us from God and, so, this leads us to hope that one of the consequences of worship during Lent is that somehow we will get (feel) closer to the God we worship.
You may think that’s well and good – but, there is a trap in it. That’s because our sense of a vast gap between us and God is not the greatest truth. The greatest truth, taught by Jesus, is that this distance between ourselves and God has been eternally closed. Right here and now, we are closer to God than we are to our own heartbeat, our next breath.
God is not some ‘presence out there’ waiting for us to discover him. His Spirit is right here, deep within us all, gently urging us to discover him – and in discovering him, to discover our true selves.
The great mystical traditions of Christianity tell us that our sense of separation from God is a pernicious illusion. Lent and Easter are, perhaps, best approached not as times of frantic seeking for ‘Someone’, ‘Something’ out there, but as a quiet, discipline waiting for God’s Spirit “nearer to me than I am myself” as the German mystic Meister Eckhart promises.
The glory of the Resurrection is the affirmation that God is found in ordinary humanity –even the smile of a stranger.