In the Western churches, Lent is over, Easter-tide has come and gone, and I realize that all of that period — Lent, Easter-tide — has really been training for the greater marathon that is living my faith for the rest of the year.
I think that’s why I like the liturgical year — these religious celebrations, these holy days of obligation — become milemarkers for me because, bound in time as we human beings are, the entire journey of our faith life can certainly look daunting. Sometimes we need a breather. Sometimes we need places to just walk a bit instead of run. And sometimes we need to be carried by others on the same journey.
I think — no, I believe — that I have fulfilled my promise to God during this past Lenten season, to try to live more in the now — “sacramentally” as I call it — than always looking toward the future — “teleologically” I guess is the term. And it has been HARD. Anybody who can live in joy 100% of his/her life, without losing faith, without despairing, without fear, without hate, is a MIRACLE. I think that’s why Original Sin as an article of faith rings true for me. We *are* not like the Edenic parents, Adam and Eve, who walked with God and feared neither the world, themselves, and each other, who saw all of Creation as glorious with the love of God *without* having to work for it, without having to be taught, believing as naturally that they are part of the goodness of Creation just as they believe they have hair. They were created in love with Creation, trusting each other and trusting God. We lost that, I believe. We lost that because we chose to lose it, according to that article of faith of Original Sin, because I *refuse* to believe that God created us *in order* to sin. I *refuse* to believe that God created evil. That’s Manicheanism. That’s Jansenism.
But we lost that Edenic creation, and we are fallen creatures because of it. Even a baby cries because he/she is cold, is hungry, is afraid of all of these weird strangers around. And it just gets worse as we get older. And trying to fight that sense of restlessness, of alienation, of separation, of not belonging, of being misunderstood, of loneliness — it takes blood, sweat, and tears — in other words, lots of work — to try to get some of original innocence back. And we can’t do it by ourselves. We need help, freely given and freely accepted, and that’s what I believe grace is. Grace comes from God, both directly from Him and through others around us. And I prayed for grace, and I’m learning to accept grace because sometimes — ironically, irrationally — I can fall in love my own misery and refuse grace because “It’s *my* misery, dammit, go away!”
Following Annie Dillard’s words is HARD but if I am to live this life, in this world, loving God and loving my neighbor, I *must*.
That’s what I’ve learned this past Lenten season — well, at least comprehended. But knowing it and doing it are two separate things, and I have much work ahead of me still.