Learning To Truly Live During Lent

The Tempest, was the last of Shakespeare's plays written entirely by the Bard himself.  Toward the end of the play, the retiring magician Prospero speaks directly to audience in what is widely believed to be Shakespeare's own farewell address:  
Our revels now are ended. These our actors, As I foretold you, were all spirits and Are melted into air, into thin air: And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces, The solemn temples, the great globe itself, Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff As dreams are made on, and our little life Is rounded with a sleep.  (The Tempest, 4.1) 
As we step into the season of Lent today, we are reminded on this Ash Wednesday that we "are dust, and to dust we shall return."  

The reminder that death is an integral part of what it means to live is a thought few of us choose to entertain willingly.  We would rather cling to permanence, and live in denial that the "baseless fabric of this vision" will one day dissolve and "leave not a rack behind."  

Jesus had other ideas for his followers.  He set forth a vision of the kingdom of God, a transformed world that reflected the shalom of God--a world where God gets what God wants: abundant life for all of Creation.  

But Jesus also taught that in order for that kingdom to be fully realized, we would have to die to the ways of the old world, and even to ourselves.  Then, he took on the worst that the old world had to offer, suffered and died.  

But that wasn't the end of the story.  

When they encountered the empty tomb that Jesus had recently vacated, the truth of his teaching about true, eternal life landed upon his followers and transformed them.  Because of the Resurrection, not only did they no longer fear death, they also knew what it meant to truly live. 

Jesus once told his followers: "Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies it remains a single seed.  But if the grain of wheat dies and goes into the ground, it reaps ten, twenty, even a hundred times."

May we realize that this journey through the season of Lent is a journey of subtraction, to be sure.  We must find ways to die to our old self--the self that keeps us trapped in our illusions of permanence and inhibits us from being alive.  

But we also need to know that this is a journey of addition.  Because when we die to our old self, we soon find that there is room for more: more flexibility in our belief, more capacity for love, more faith in the future and more of what makes eternal life, eternal.  

May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always.  Amen.  




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