First Sunday of Lent

I walked into my church’s worship gathering yesterday morning. I took my seat among the teen row like I do every week (I am an intern with the youth group—and I love sitting with the teens). The worship pastor started talking. The lights were dimmed. The song began. I opened my mouth, but I was struggling to get any words to come out. Instead, I could feel the tears welling up behind my eyelids.

Oh, no. You can’t cry. Not here. I thought as I went through the possible escape routes I could have in case the water works started. There were no convenient escapes, so I just stood there as my tears started to fall. I tried to cover my face with my hair. It worked. I doubt anyone noticed.

The thought to leave and go cry in the bathroom for the rest of the service stayed in my head as I stood there unable to sing. I didn’t have the ability to sing, or so it felt. But I saw the bread and the juice. I knew that we would be receiving the Eucharist at the end of the service. I stayed because I knew that soon I would be able to taste the bread of Life, the bread I so desperately needed.

It was the first Sunday of Lent. I found myself standing there crying and feeling alone. I was surrounded by people yet I did not want anyone to see me cry. That has kind of how the past few days have been. I have been crying because I can’t stop the tears and I often find that I am mostly alone in my tears. It’s not anyone’s fault really; my suitemates are either gone or busy. So I cry alone because I don’t want to seek out anyone who will let me cry with them. I don’t like people seeing me cry anyway.

My roommate asked me how I was getting to the airport. I told her that I would probably just drive and pay for parking. After all, that’s easier than asking anyone. Anyone that I would ask, it would just be an inconvenience for them. The airport is forty minutes away. My roommate looked at me and said, “Don’t be ridiculous. I will take you.” I reminded her that she has class at the same time. She gave me that look, that don’t be ridiculous look as she said, “I can miss class to take you.” Because sometimes when you love someone, you don’t think of what you are doing for them as an inconvenience. You just think of it as loving them. Like cleaning the toilet. You don’t always enjoy it, but you don’t mind it because you love the people you are cleaning it for.

So, it was the first Sunday of Lent. I was standing in church, where each Sunday we come together and our lives touch each other. We sing and say good morning. We can either stand there with the dimmed lights and we can close our eyes and close ourselves off to the people around us or we can realize that the person next to us is crying and we can enter into the messiness of the lives of the people around us. I remember hearing someone talk about how our lives are like barns. Annie Parsons wrote in her blog:

“Greta once heard a sermon in which the pastor (Richard Dahlstrom – holler) compared life to a barn.  You can keep your barn empty, and therefore, very clean and orderly – but that’s not what a barn is meant for.  A barn is made to house LIFE.  And if you invite life into the barn, then you’re bound to have to shovel some sh*t.”

That’s what Church reminds me each week. That we so desperately need each other. And when other people come into our lives, it is messy. But that’s what life is about. It is about being there for the ones you love simply because you love them. You rearrange schedules and buy plane tickets because you love them.

It was the first Sunday of Lent. During the season of Lent, we remove our comforts and bring our hearts in all their rawness before God. We cannot do this alone, we cannot do this on our own. In Lent, I am finding that there is grace overflowing and spilling all over. I need that grace. I need that bread. I need that life. I need that love.

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