People just can’t give up a story.That’s what the kids tried to do in the 60s and the 70s.They tried to stop living as takers but there was no other way for them to live.They failed because you just can’t stop being in a story.You have to have another story to be in.
Daniel Quinn in Ishmael
LENT is part of the story which nourishes us.
Ash Wednesday reminds us in the middle of winter that we are once again in a story which makes demands.
Most of the culture finds itself in pseudo-stories like Valentine’s Day or before that the consumer steeplechase called Christmas.
The liturgy reminds us to whom we give our ultimate allegiance.As does the Sabbath.
Sadly the Church which gave us the story has morphed to a near death experience which does not nourish. It almost totally defines itself in a moribund institutional and fundamentalist way. It sees itself as en soi, almost totally closed in on itself, arrogantly preaching to those on the outside.Its feast days are not linked in any dynamic way to God’s reign of peace and justice. Its professional ministers are not part of the major movements of our time.This then is the tragedy of much institutional religion.
Nevertheless Ash Wednesday and the 40 days which follow remind me and us of who we are.It still has the potential to lead us to a deeper immersion in life.It’s a thousand times better than the bland secular culture of official optimism and cheerfulness. These never lead to a cross and then to a resurrection.