I came away from these passages thinking about desire. “What do you want?” I asked myself. It turns out that this isn’t a simple question. In fact, I came away stumped — I seemed to want everything and therefore could articulate nothing. Not a day goes by without an image, a commercial or a social media influencer telling me what I lack and to trust that whatever they are selling can sate me. They offer both the illusion of satisfaction and the excuse to never ponder or question the roots or the nature of my desire.
According to Jeremiah it has always been this way: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” It is God who understands but how do we share in that understanding? Lent is too often defined as a time that we try overcome desire and temptation. But this is a delusion. “The heart is beyond cure”; our human condition is want. Rather Lent is a time to feel our desires more acutely. When we humbly admit to and give shape to that emptiness, it transforms into space for God to move, leading us to meditate upon “his law day and night.” God does not eliminate desire, rather God teaches us to desire with direction.