A White-Knuckled Quest for Mini-Redemption?

by Joan Castagnone

Happy are those
who do not follow the advice of the wicked….
but their delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law they meditate day and night.
They are like trees
planted by streams of water,
which yield their fruit in its season.
Psalm 1:1-3

“Day and night?” Seriously? Yes. Seriously. The Bible is pretty clear: follow the Law and you will live as a fruitful tree beside a stream of water and spend eternity resting in the arms of Abraham; don’t follow the Law and you will end up as chaff blown away and burning in the fires of Hades. The problem for me is that, despite these high stakes, laws can be capricious and unclear. I am tempted to pick and choose, despite Jeremiah’s caution, “The heart is devious above all else.”

Lent makes me think about laws and rules. It makes me think of making up laws for myself: laws that require not doing things I like to do or doing things I don’t like to do, but either way the decision revolves around things that are, ultimately, good for me. Only me. So my Lenten practice becomes a kind of white-knuckled quest for… for… something, some ill-defined mini-redemption. But maybe it could become, if not a 24/7 meditation on law, a daily (more or less) reflection on something bigger, much bigger than myself. The law is big and mysterious. And anything that gets me to think beyond myself is both hard and welcome. So maybe Lent can be a time of both embrace and letting go.


Thursday, February 25, 2016
Jeremiah 17:5-10
Psalm 1
Luke 16:19-31