A Reflection for Lent

LentWe're good at hiding, Lord...

We do a lot of hiding, Lord.

We hide from ourselves.

We hide from one another, too.

A cursory, door-step greeting, "And, how are you?" we are asked.

More often than not, of course, "We're fine", whatever that may mean.

It's the automatic, learned response, the English-thing.

That "fine" covers a multitude of possibilities

and a multitude of sins, too...

We put on the war-paint, the brave face – not safe enough, not having time-enough to entrust the difficult details of the day: "I'm fine".

Will anyone really want to listen? What will they think of me?

In truth it's not all that fine, Lord...

There's all that growing clutter gathering in the cupboards of our lives,

Where we keep locked-away the fear and the pain,

Sometimes the tears which "good Christians" shouldn't experience in the first place,

Let alone share with each other...

We're quick to close our cupboards -

One is labelled "religion"; one is labelled "life"

Where the skeletons of doubt rattle in dusty darkness,

Little spoken of in their separateness – known all too-well to us – then hurriedly closed.

Never the twain shall meet!

It's not supposed to be like that, you tell us, Lord.

And though we know this, still

We chuckle (self-righteously) at the Pharisees

And tell ourselves we're absolutely nothing like them.

We watch them as we might cartoon or cut-out characters, collecting their "brownie-points" –

Earning their place at your table...

We put on our Sunday best, just like them...

We're good at hiding, Lord...

We wear the mask that looks fine,

Until we peek a little closer at the paint with its tell-tale cracks.

And beneath is the clutter, a mixture of work and religion,

The grace-less acts and the motives mixed.

We sometimes look at others, thinking, "I wish I was more like him!"

Or: "I'm glad I'm not like her!"

In fact, the truth is we're more like one another than we would ever believe...

We're good at hiding, Lord...

We all have ghosts from our pasts which come to haunt us.

And, if truth be known, we all carry the great worrying weight of the giants of today

And the fear of what tomorrow will bring ...

You know the sort of thing I mean:

Secretly we put away in cupboards the thought that perhaps you might not care

or that you may not be "Almighty-enough" to deal with those things that worry us so much that we have to hide them away, even from you –

Like a frightened child – concerned his parent won't love him – unless...

We're good at hiding, Lord!

We even try to hide from you.

As if you didn't know all about those cupboards

And all about what lies within them

And why they are there in the first place.

Hiding is such hard work! Lord help tidy us up...

And then, just when all that clutter of un-emptied cupboards seems about to bury us,

You are there, Lord -

Not a stern judge but a merciful friend

And we hear you saying to each of us,

"Let go of it! Bring it to me, all that clutter –

Don't carry it alone. Turn to me and be healed!

I love you anyway – for all your cupboards and their content.

Just don't spend so much time collecting it!"