(The following is from Robin Kozlowski, a parish member and Aspirant for Ordination to the Diaconate)
REFLECT AND REPENT
These two words…reflect and repent…are a part of our Lenten Journey each
year. Because these are words we hear often, but due to repetition we don’t
always listen to, perhaps this is a good time to do some “listening”.
In order to reflect, we must first rest and remember. Lent is a time for slowing
down our racing thoughts and worries to allow space to simply “be” with
ourselves and with God as we consider what we have lost, especially in the past year.
“Rest” may occur while sitting quietly gazing out a window, or while
journaling our thoughts and feelings, or while walking in the snow. We are
encouraged to “remember” that which has been lost. These are our spiritual
retreats into the “desert”. The experience will be different for each of us. In
this year, it is fair to believe that most of us will remember the personal
encounters with loved ones, friends and strangers prior to the pandemic. We
may remember tension, hurtful words, relationships we have lost. We may
grieve over loss of the joy of live theater, museums and all the places that bring
depth and beauty to our lives. However, we are also called to remember,
reflect upon and admit our own participation in the personal and communal
loss of recognizing in ourselves and others the Presence of God. As we reflect
on our losses, how have we contributed to the losses others have experienced?
How often have we failed to be kind, patient, trusting, non-prejudicial, fair and
to love our neighbors?
Which brings us to another “Lenten” word: repent. When our reflections bring
us to “own up to” our personal loss of awareness of the Presence of God within
ourselves and others, where do we go from there? There are two ways to
interpret repentance. The first is to feel regret, shame, self-reproach, sorrow.
The second is to seek to change our lives for the better, to change our hearts,
to become aware of what our faith calls us to be and to change ourselves. This
second way of interpreting repentance is life affirming and calls us to follow
the Way of Love, which is the example Jesus gave us for living in full awareness
of the love of God freely given to others through OUR actions and attitudes
toward OUR neighbors.
This is the hard work not only of Lent each year, but throughout our lifetimes.
We have promised in our Baptismal Vows to “continue in the apostles’ teaching
and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers”; to “repent and
return to the Lord”; to “proclaim by word and example the Good News of God
in Christ”; to “seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as
yourself”, and to “strive to safeguard the integrity of God’s creation…”.
Rather than “giving up” something during Lent, instead let us “give” more of
ourselves, our time, talent and treasure by following the example of Jesus and
choosing to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Jesus knew when he needed to retreat to the desert or row out away from
shore or go up a mountainside to rest and reflect. He understood the
temptations to which we are all exposed. He experienced anger, grief, hunger,
pain, betrayal. And he knew to the core of his Being that the Presence of God
was within him and within all of humanity, indeed within all of God’s Creation.
May we use this time of Lent to reflect and repent. Amen.
Aspirant for Ordination to the Diaconate