There is a certain sadness in my heart as we make our way through this Lent. It is a sadness that is almost indistinguishable because it lay just beneath the surface and there is so much that goes on in life that it is hard to discern. But every once in a while, I catch its feeling.
The sadness is over how factionalized we have become. It seems everyone is mad or at least up in arms about something. Camps of people who believe in certain ways have formed and they look upon their opposition not with respect but with disdain. Past hurts intrude into the present so that the old wounds are continually aggravated and there is no healing.
We cannot look upon each other without wondering what the motive of the other is. Trust, the glue that binds all human relationships, has nearly vanished. So many trust so very few. Much of this has been earned. But part of growing as a human being is coming to the understanding that all are capable of change. We are all capable of being healed. We are all in need of that healing. However, in order to be healed, we must reach out to those who may have done us harm. Even then we may be rejected. But if we do nothing, then nothing will happen!
It is not easy being human! It is not easy dealing with the emotions that accompany us through our lives. Bitterness and anger can fester to the point that it poisons lives and prevents any kind of meaningful reconciliation. But we are human and the mere fact that we are means that we have the capability of overcoming these daunting obstacles. It is not easy because none of us wants to be hurt, especially over and over by someone we once cared for deeply. Often, we cannot overcome these things without the help of God.
Now there are those who may read this and turn their noses up at this last thought. They are firmly convinced that there is either no God or at least if there is one, he matters not. But the truth of the matter is that God does exist and is very real. Another truth is the fact that we are nothing without him and we are dependent on him for everything.
Lent is the season for reconciliation. It is a time for reassessment of our interior lives in respect to our relationship with God. Life is far too precious for us to remain in our camps, comfortably slinging our judgments at others in other camps. It is a time for reflection. How am I contributing to this polarization? What am I doing to begin to reverse this trend? What, in my life, do I need change to become more sensitive and aware of the feelings and needs of others?
We can not, any one of us by ourselves, heal the wounds of the past. Healing the wounds that exist between people takes the parties involved. This is reconciliation. It is this very reconciliation that the Son of God died for those two thousand years ago. His death was a personal death for all of us. He died for us all collectively as well as individually. He died to himself so as to follow the will of the Father. We, too, must die to ourselves in order to accede the will of the Father. In this way and only this way, will the sadness of the human heart be replaced with unspeakable joy!