Am I really what I ought to be? Am I what, in the bottom of my heart, I honestly wish to be? Am I living a life at all like what I myself approve? My secret nature, the true complexion of my character, is hidden from all men, and only I know it. Is it such as I should be willing to show? Is my soul at all like what my kindest and most intimate friends believe? Is my heart at all such as I should wish the Searcher of Hearts to judge me by? Is every year adding to my devotion, to my unselfishness, to my conscientiousness, to my freedom from the hypocrisy of seeming so much better than I am? When I compare myself with last year, am I more ready to surrender myself at the call of duty? am I more alive to the commands of conscience? have I shaken off my besetting sins?” These are the questions which this season of Lent ought to find us putting fairly and honestly to our hearts.  – The Most Reverend Frederick Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury, {1821–1902}

 

Most of our members know about the tradition begun by our previous Dean, M.L. Agnew, of gathering in our Chapel for daily Eucharist at 7am during the weeks of Lent.  A close knit group of friends has formed over the years.

 

A friend says almost every January or February – “I just love the season of Lent, it is my favorite season of the Church year.”

 

I generally pause and reflect about what she must mean.  When I think of Lent, I think of days when we bring our sins to mind, when we release from the depths those hidden compromises that have kept us from God.  When I think of Lent, I am put in mind of those forces in the religious and political machinery of society that would kill a man for speaking a truth too hard to bear.  When I think of Lent, I am put in mind of my own fear of taking, blessing, and drinking from the cup of repentance and new life that Christ is handing me each day that I live.  

 

When I think of Lent, I both remember and wonder what it feels like to kneel, asking that a loving God would take a difficult cup from my lips – all the while knowing there could be, and there can be, no other way than to go straight through, and drink from it.

 

I am not sure that my friend means or intends all that comes to my mind when I think of Lent; what I do believe is that she loves this season because it gives her permission to become transparent beneath God’s everlasting gaze of truth and love.  I am not sure, but I believe she means that Lent is a season when she no longer has to pretend, or cast a posture of goodness; she is able to be honest with God and herself, and therefore finds the doorway into the foyer of inner peace.

 

I believe she means that during Lent we encounter a voice from Scripture and Prayer that speaks what we know is the truth of our condition, and we give thanks that there remains in the world a place where such truth can be spoken and received in love.  Most of the time we are not as good, noble, undivided, and charitable as we have come to believe about ourselves; it is nice not to have to pretend any longer.  There is no pretending in the courts of the Lord.  

 

Lent is a season when we are given overt permission to have the intimate conversation with God that our life constantly invites from us; perhaps we might accept that invitation this season and make it a year-long availability to God.  It is a chance for our lives to begin answering the questions posed by the good Archbishop Temple.

 

Am I really what I ought to be? Am I what, in the bottom of my heart, I honestly wish to be?