Facing the chaos within

File:Slow down sign, Reed College, Portland, Oregon (2013).JPG

Even if a person does not observe Lent, the themes are universal and necessary :

Sometimes the etymology of a word can be helpful. Linguistically, lent is derived from an old English word meaning springtime. In Latin, lente means slowly. Etymologically, then, lent points to the coming of spring and it invites us to slow down our lives so as to be able to take stock of ourselves.

Lent has always been understood as a time to metaphorically spend forty days in the desert unprotected by normal nourishment so as to have to face “Satan” and the “wild animals” and see whether the “angels” will indeed come and look after us when we reach that point where we can no longer look after ourselves. For us, “Satan” and “wild animals” refer particularly to the chaos inside of us that normally we either deny or simply refuse to face – our paranoia, our anger, our jealousies, our distance from others, our fantasies, our grandiosity, our addictions, our unresolved hurts…. The normal food that we eat –  distracted ordinary life – works to shield us from the deeper chaos that lurks beneath the surface of our lives.

Lent invites us to stop eating whatever protects us from having to face the desert that is inside of us. It invites us to feel our smallness, to feel our vulnerability, to feel our fears, and to open ourselves up the chaos of the desert so that we can finally give the angels a chance to feed us. That’s the ideal of lent, to face one’s chaos.

Ron Rolheiser, Entering Lent

photo: Another believer

5 thoughts on “Facing the chaos within

  1. This is a beautiful piece. Im enjoying your writing on Lent. I have left church and gone beyond a traditional relationship with Christianity, but still value the rhythm of the church year, and find both Lent and Advent important. I love it that here you make connections with the Spring, and I am reminded of the quote I think by Edward Thomas of “It is not yet Spring”, and of the work that is done in nature in preparation. The work you describe here is what I am currently embracing on a more Buddhist path….the need to look deeper into myself and know that the world can only be healed by myself being healed. To welcome the difficulties and pain and embrace it so it cannot lie dormant and disturbing. As a therapist I guess its about bringing things to consciousness so that our awareness is awake and we are not driven by old unconscious patterns. Thank you for your posts of encouragement. Joy

    1. Hi Joy, The whole article is really good and I would encourage you to read it, found easily on google. I am just pulling out universal themes but as you say the rhythm of the Church calendar is probably closer to the human spirit and the rhythms of nature than is the cycle followed by our more commercial world today. Tomorrows post is kinda lenten as well and then they will be interspersed over the next few weeks. Thanks for your comment and encouraging words, Karl

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