Do you ever wonder what kind of life Jesus had? I do from time to time. If, as we say we believe, Jesus was entirely human as the God-person on this planet, then Jesus had the same longings and fears, envies and worries, confusions and joyful surprises as the rest of us. If not, then we find ourselves back in gnosticism – back in an belief system in which Jesus was some form of spiritual robocop or transformer – just biding time during his brief 33 year exile from clouds and eternal Pina Coladas among angels and within the Trinity. Did Jesus have close friends? Our Scriptures say he did. Did some friends betray him in big and small ways? Our scriptures say he did. Did Jesus change his mind about people? Our scriptures say he did. Did Jesus despair at how stupid, insensitive, unkind some of the people around him were? Our scriptures say he did. Did Jesus suffer the slings and arrows of petty jealously over him, lies told about him and manipulation of him? Scriptures say he did.
As Lent approaches, it is also early spring. It is a time in which those of us with farms need to begin to gather the dead growth on the property into a pile for burning. It is also time to evaluate my soul. It is a time to beg the Holy Spirit to wander the isles of my heart and soul with me; walking hand in hand. Her warm hand is comforting and firmly grasping. She is confident. She is kind. And she does not shy back from saying he hard stuff in the same way a good nurse looks at me over her glasses and gently reminds me that my weight is going up. No scolding. Just concern. Her warm hand never lets go while we wander the isles of my life to look at what is on those shelves. What is still needed for the journey? What is a mere collection? What is junk, broken, soiled, used-up? What needs to be gently handed over to the burn pile?
There are plenty of people in my life and in my address book. As I age, I am beginning to be able to better discern who is who. I am less given to seduction, less fooled by charm, less inclined to make a choice quietly fueled by lust – conscious our subconscious. I am less concerned when I hear someone lying about me or to me – less reactionary and less gullible – both. Of course, there is pain when friends betray but I am increasingly aware that the story of the crucifixion is the story of walking just that road. Lost or trimmed friendship is the collateral damage of sin. Nothing more.
As I prepare for Lent and my retreat which begins on Ash Wednesday, I am, collecting the tools I will need. Where are those branch trimers? Where is the wheelbarrow? Where is that bag of decomposing life…%^#%$ …, I mean… fertilizer, which so beautifully feeds new life? And most importantly, where are those matches? What and who must I let go of so that when She comes along in the form of wind, my sails catch and we go to where we must go to get done what we must do next?