Dear Family, “Remember you are dust and to dust you will return.”
These words tell us that Lent is now. Ash Wednesday is March 2nd and marks the beginning of this season. Roy and I will offer a simple service of Imposition of Ashes with prayer, music, readings, and meditation. We will offer this service at noon on March 2nd at the Sunriver Library Meeting Room. The service will last at most an hour. I do ask that masks be worn.
Since ancient times, Lent has become a season in the Church year carved out for inward journeying as we travel with Jesus to the cross.
Lent becomes a time for our spring cleaning. It is the time to go inside to rid ourselves of some of the clutter and trash that fills our spiritual lives. It is time to shine some light on the dark corners we may have avoided to investigate.
Why? Because if we do not take this inner journey of discovery, then we may fool ourselves into thinking we are in good health. And if we wait far too long, it can be death-dealing emotionally, if not physically.
No one can illustrate this better than a theologian I quote regularly, Dr. Fred Craddock. Many of you will remember when he traveled to Sunriver, a number of years back, to teach us and to preach.
Listen to him from A Taste of Milk and Honey, February 2009:
I learned just recently of a case of surgery so extraordinary that I assumed it was a singular case, but the surgeon assured me it was not. Rare, yes, but unique, no.
The story in brief is this: a man in his mid-fifties was rushed to the emergency room of the nearest hospital. He complained of inability to breathe. Examination revealed that the cause of his shortness of breath was a growth, a large growth, on his upper back, between his shoulder blades. The man’s mother said she first noticed it when he was a teenager. She repeatedly urged him to have it attended to, but he never did. The growth was small when she first noticed it, and on subsequent occasions she could tell it was growing. Her urgings moved from cosmetic (it was becoming unsightly) to medical (it will put pressure on your heart). When her son became an adult and moved away, she worried but did nothing more. The patient himself gasped to the doctor that the growth had enlarged gradually and had been accepted as part of his life. He grew unable to imagine himself without it; it became a part of his identity. It caused little or no pain; that is, until recently.
The growth had to be removed; there was no alternative to surgery. A team of surgeons was assembled. They began at 7:00 a.m. and finished at 3:30 p.m. One or two follow-up surgeries might be required, but the patient would live. Barring unexpected complications, he should enjoy a life free of unnecessary weight; a new life, one might say.
How much did the growth weigh? Everyone was curious to know. Slightly more than 40 pounds. How in the world was he able to carry it, day and night? Because it grew so slowly. Would it have been fatal if not removed? No question. Was it sent to the lab for analysis? Of course, it always is. What was it?
I will see you on the journey.