When…not if…when…redemption wins….
Today is Mardi Gras, aka “Fat Tuesday,” or “Shrove Tuesday,” to some folks. It’s a pre-Lent free-for-all of sorts, and not just on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. You’ll see lots of churches, lots of civic groups, lots of families eating and drinking lots of decadent stuff tonight, and perhaps a King Cake or two. There’s definitely a bit of gold and purple and green about, “Laissez les bon temps roulez!” right? (I totally just typed that from my high school and college French days–did I get it right??!?)
For about a minute on Sunday I considered cooking Cajun tonite, having some folks over, and seeing if I could find a celiac-friendly King Cake, but I didn’t even get to the “Hey! Y’all come over!” phase before Influenza Type A hit this house, and it’s been all getting the Curly Girl through the fever and aches and sore throat since. So much for the good times rolling. Pass the Ibuprofen, ginger ale and lots of rest please.
I wasn’t so much in a party mood anyway…partly because I was already mulling about in the corner of my brain I use to try on writing ideas this whole notion of a series of Lenten blogs. A whole lot of change and some rocky years have left me and church in a weird sort of place. But a whole lot of support and love and prayers, much of it from church(es), have also left me standing…and so…here I am, thinking about what it means to slide into 40 days of Lent, of reflection and wandering and looking for light, when the world already feels so damn weary and worn and broken.
Worn. Because the pain of broken relationships and shattered dreams has left you sitting among the ruins of what you once called your life and you’ve really no idea how you’re going to get up, or what you’d do if you actually did.
Worn. Because the medical bills keep piling up and the doctors cannot figure it out and meanwhile your loved one continues to hurt and you feel like there has to be an end to this struggle but you sure can’t see it.
Worn. Because if you read one more pathetic and evil Facebook post regarding how all Republicans are cold-hearted bastards or how all Democrats are baby-killers, or anything suggesting one life matters over another, you just might give up your citizenship, because this is poor excuse for who we were meant to be. I’m telling y’all…if…IF there is a bifurcated-tail, pitchfork-in-hand, actual creature at loose right now, it’s finding its fill of fun and inspiration in what passes for politics in this country. We’re destroying ourselves at the pleasure of ego and money and power (and we’re all-ALL-to blame).
Worn. Because the cost of living escalates on the daily, and the choices the average American family has to make in light of that are often terrifying.
Worn. Because you feel so stuck. So alone. So unable to find a way forward. Because it feels like life just won’t let up, and all around you, people are screaming, “Do this! Do that!” and in the chaos of it all you’ve lost any ability to listen to your heart or trust your gut.
Worn. Because grief is not linear. In fact, it is a real bitch sometimes. And it adores sneak attacks.
Worn. Because hate is alive and well. Because betrayal stings. Because fear is a fierce and effective liar. Because you’re tired. Deep in your bones tired.
For every example of worn I just wrote, there is a specific person (or specific people) in mind. But really it is all of us. Whether we choose to admit it, or choose to talk about it, or choose to honestly grapple with it–worn, these days, is, I suspect, all of us.
And we stand in desperate, all-consuming, real need of redemption.
Last week,I heard this song by the band Tenth Avenue North. And the chorus reads like this:
Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart that’s frail and torn
I want to know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
‘Cause I’m worn
Me, too. And, I try to only be a betting woman on the first Saturday in May in Kentucky…but…if I were to wager, I’d say, “And you, too.“
What I also believe with everything I am, is that redemption wins. And so I think I want to spend the next 40 days thinking about that. Witnessing to that. Noticing it around me. And writing about what it all might mean, especially when it comes to being a person who practices redemption, and who believes in resurrection, in the goodness of life made new and hope made real and grace made plain.
This morning, I heard my colleague and friend Joe Pusateri say this, “The good news is not good news unless you know what it stands in contrast to.”
Y’all, first of all, I wish I’d said that! Second of all– #truth. And what I believe the good news stands in contrast to is all that makes us worn. All that threatens to undo us. All that makes us believe the lies that fear and grief and insecurity and uncertainty can tell us. All that tries so mightily to separate us from God.
Only it can’t. It can’t separate us. Not in the end. Because the truth has to do with WHEN redemption happens. Not if.
I know. You think I’m stubborn in my hopefulness. I get that a lot. But it is, quite literally, the only way I know through this life.
So…here we go…40 days.
When Redemption wins. Not if.
No matter how worn you might be….