By: Louie Bailey
This Sunday, February 19, is Transfiguration Sunday, the last Sunday of the Epiphany season. Next Wednesday, February 22, is Ash Wednesday, and Sunday, February 26, is the First Sunday in Lent. Just as the Christian year is full of dramatic changes, e.g., going from the Transfiguration into the more penitent, reflective season of Lent, life very often fluctuates between times of celebration and reflection.
As we prepare for the Holy Season of Redemption, Lent, may we share the joy we feel and temper it with the contemplative side. When I asked a class of 5th and 6th graders what the meaning of the Lenten season is, they responded, “It’s the time when you give up something.” Although that has been true in the past, since Vatican II, Christians have been asked not only to give up something, but to “take on” something, such as a special project like feeding the poor, etc.
My prayer is that each of us will take a reflective look at our lives and see the areas we need to strengthen, and find ways to reach out to those who need what we have to offer, whether it be a listening ear, an encouraging word, a friendly smile, or sharing our resources.
There is a Jewish prayer that speaks to life as journey:
Birth is a beginning and death a destination and life is a journey:
From childhood to maturity and youth to age;
From innocence to awareness and ignorance to knowing;
From foolishness to desecration and then perhaps to wisdom.
From weakness to strength or from strength to weakness and often back again;
From health to sickness and we pray to health again.
From offense to forgiveness from loneliness to love
from joy to gratitude from pain to compassion
from grief to understanding from fear to faith.
From defeat to defeat to defeat until looking backwards or ahead
We see that victory lies not at some high point along the way
but in having made the journey step by step a sacred pilgrimage.
Birth is a beginning and death a destination And life is a journey;
A sacred journey to life everlasting.
One of the Lenten hymns in our hymnal, “Lord, Who Throughout these Forty Days” says it beautifully:
Lord, who throughout these forty days for us did fast and pray,
Teach us with you to mourn our sins and close by you to stay.
Abide with us, that through this life of doubts and hope and pain,
An Easter of unending joy we may at last attain.”!