“Seasonal Affective Disorder”
It’s Lent again – how does that make you feel?
I have a hunch that many of us don’t look forward to Lent. I, for one, like the jovial spirit of Mardi Gras with its pancake suppers, dancing in the streets, and colorful beads. As winter wears on (and on), we need a pick-me-up. Lent doesn’t seem to be it.
I also believe that we all have plenty to feel bad about these days without heaping more onto the pile. We’re well aware of our own failings, the struggles in our personal lives, and the huge troubles and dangers in the world today. Political systems aren’t working well in the U.S. or many other nations. Nuclear war is back on the front page. Violence, disease, and famine rage. Do we need a church season to make us feel S.A.D.?
No, we do not. Fortunately, Lent has received a theological and spiritual makeover in many quarters. It doesn’t need to be maudlin, with an air of self-flagellation. Instead, we can use Lent to acknowledge the tensions and struggles in life and bring God’s life-giving message to assuage them. We can, in fact, Meet God in the Wilderness.
One way to counteract the world’s heaviness is to reinvigorate a relationship that brings you joy and comfort. If you are like me, you have wonderful friends whom you just don’t keep up with. They may live far away, but these days that’s not a big impediment. Reach out and contact that person, and see if the spark of delight is still there in that relationship. If so, you have a companion in the wilderness, someone to walk with you. Maybe that person can be Christ to you. Maybe you can be Christ to that person.
Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River, with a booming affirmation from God. Then he was driven into the wilderness. Life’s highs are fleeting; the wilderness times are less so. Jesus took with him, into the wilderness, his relationship with God. He borrowed strength from God and his loved ones. And he survived. We might say, he got by with a little help from his friends.
Lent doesn’t have to bring with it “Seasonal Affective Disorder.” It can be a season of claiming our joy, and treasuring those who walk with us, even with wilderness all around us. JBM