Living Lent …

It is the season of Lent.

I struggle to find a meaningful, significant, relevant means of living this season – consciously, authentically, deliberately.

Attending the Stations of the Cross is a traditional Lenten practice. But my recent experience seems to make a mockery of this devotional prayer. A formula recited at such a rapid pace that I barely had a moment for the Word, the Art, the Implication, to surface before I was walking, genuflecting, chanting again. It was almost as if there is an urgency to ‘get it over and done with’, to set Lent aside until next week, and get on with my usual life.

I want this faith story to be grounded in my life; to be contextualised. One of the things I love about Scripture is its polyvalent nature: the way it can speak at different levels, with different keynotes, to each individual in their unique context. A sprint through the Stations of the Cross on a Friday night just doesn’t do it for me anymore. Jenny Green, in “The Art of Easter” (2006) wrote, “…the Easter story is no mere myth. It is the record of the very foundation of our faith, containing hope that has power to transform lives and situations.”

I want to be challenged, confronted, provoked, confused, angered, filled with questions, empowered, transformed. I want to enter fully into the heart of Divine Love. I want time spent with the Stations of the Cross – with the art, the music, the words, the movement, the prayer, the silence – to be moments of grace; encounters with the Divine; to expand my vision; a gauntlet laid down by the Spirit. I want this prayer to blow away the cobwebs of traditionalism and institutionalism and motivate me to compassion and action.

How are the Stations of the Cross relevant to the man who has just lost his job? Here is the man standing before authority being handed down an apalling sentence. Here is the the man stripped of his dignity, his livelihood, his identity. Here is the the man who will now be dependent on the support of others. Do we recognise God’s image in this man? Do we see that Jesus’ way of the cross is reflected in his way?

How are the Stations of the Cross a meaningful prayer for the mother and wife diagnosed with terminal cancer? Here is a woman who trusts her husband and children into the care of others. Here is a woman whose body will be laid out and buried. Here is one whose spirit will be revealed in those she loves. Do we recognise God’s image in this woman? Do we see that Jesus’ way of the cross is also her journey?

Am I greedy or selfish, wanting public prayer to be freshly-prepared, current, relevant, reflective of those gathered and of the global community? Are my expectations too great? Am I setting myself up for a fall? Am I not trying hard enough to conform and uphold tradition? Do I demand too much from prayer and Scripture? The Jesus we remember and accompany as we walk the Stations of the Cross is an incarnational God – Divine Love in human form. How can I make Lenten rituals relevant and meaningful? Or is it time to walk another path, follow another way?

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  • Liz Pearce, mother of 3 adult children, loves story, dollmaking, writing and silence.

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