Bob Cornner

Bob Cornner
Visting St. Andrew's Torrance

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Touched, Troubled, Tumbled, Torn, Tossed, or Tempted?

Lent is a time of reflection.

Year after year, most of us pass through this season that reminds us of the time that Jesus spent in the wilderness and underwent the temptations that we heard about last week, without being touched, troubled, tumbled, torn, tossed, or tempted.

Is that a problem?

This season also reminds us of the 40 year journey of Israel out of the slavery in Egypt, through the Red Sea, across the trackless stretch of extreme cold and heat, dangers and temptations, struggling life and sudden death, success, but mostly failure, and finally exit from the wilderness and entrance into the land of milk and honey.

We hear this story that we recalled last week when we blessed the waters of baptism last Sunday, but how many of us will be exposed to such physically, spiritual, and emotional hardships during our Lenten season?

Is that a problem?

The answer to both of these questions is a qualified "No."

Most of us live lives with a certain amount of the very stuff of which Jesus and the children of Israel dealt with during their treks through the wilderness. The wilderness is a way of describing times and places in our lives when every fiber of our being is tested; when our certainties about others, ourselves, and God are shaken and challenged. It is, as Father Norm said on Ash Wednesday, a time of" bumping into ourselves" in a silence that does not allow us to hide or numb ourselves with substances, distractions, or companionship.

If such times correspond to the season of Lent then you will quickly identify with Jesus and the Israelites as you hear their stories, but if your Lents have been pretty much business as usual, you may find yourself simply going through the motions of "giving up" this or that or giving more generously of money, care, or attention to others. Perhaps your fasting and giving will give you a sense of having entered into the story of Jesus and Israel in the wilderness.

But, if you are feeling a bit out of the loop during Lent, if you feel that life is just too good to dwell on the challenges others have faced, and if your greatest hope and prayer is to be delivered from such tests, relax and simply hear these stories and store up in your memory and heart the reality that God is in your life, but will also be in your life if you are ever touched, troubled, tumbled, torn, tossed, or tempted. Or if you ever wander into trackless stretches of extremes, dangers and temptations, struggles for life in the midst of death, successes, but mostly failure.

To thankfully hear these stories and to be open to these images of God with those whose lives have endured the Lenten season of real life, give us hope and strength and understanding for those Lenten seasons that will come into our lives and will challenge us to seek God. Now is the time to reflect on these things and to prepare ourselves for the Lenten experiences that are surely part of every human life.