We may feel we have already endured a year of Lent during a plague of sickness, fear, isolation, economic uncertainty, and loss. We have been deprived of our freedom to go to church, work, to see our families, to socialise, to travel. Lent is often seen to be about giving up but it’s also about re-orienting our lives. It’s about letting go of things that we cling to and giving ourselves over to God. Jesus bids us ‘Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest.’
Acedia, Soul Sickness, attacked the desert fathers in monasteries. It dragged them down like a thick wet blanket. It was known as noon day disease draining the monks of energy so the days become weary, time dragged. However a cure was found and that was acceptance and letting go and letting God take over.
Julian of Norwich used the old English word ‘noughting’ letting go of everything we cling to for security or comfort and giving ourselves up to the care of God, to open our hearts to receive the love of God. If we rest in Divine Love, we will experience a life of fullness and peace, not by giving up but giving in to God’s will for our lives.
Jesus was tempted to use his power, majesty and authority instead of laying down his life and being our servant king. At his Baptism the heavens opened to reveal him as the son of God but the Spirit drove him into the wilderness to question himself, his ministry and face his demons. He was fully human as well as fully God, so he too had a shadow side to confront! However he had angels, as well as demons with him, as we do. He experienced the same temptations that we do to put our human will before God’s divine will for our lives. Jesus’ nature was love and mercy yet he also knew human selfish desires. Did he really need to travel the horrific painful path to the cross? Jesus found the answers in the scriptures, prayer and confronting his demons head on.
Wilderness, Demons, Wild beasts are in all of us raging battle between good and evil forces, principalities and powers. Jesus experienced disordered thoughts and temptations while trying to work out his future ministry. He experienced the same confused collection of ideas, dreams, desires, longings and hungers that keep us from becoming the kind of people we were meant to be. Ignatius called them ‘disordered attachments’. Once free of these disordered desires, we can know what we really want. When we shed our fears and disentangle ourselves from other people’s ideas and get free to be our authentic selves we connect to God within us and allow him to guide our lives.
So Let us consider noughting or letting go of everything we cling to or count on for security and let ourselves fall into the care of God during this Lent. If we dare to let go and let God we will discover the love, peace and joy that passes all intellectual understanding. Not by giving up but by giving in to whatever God wishes to accomplish in and through our lives. Let us aim to come out of our wilderness experience, as Jesus did, proclaiming the Good News.
Angela Stewart, Lay Minister