[Rough Draft]

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After 4 quiet months (and a terribly disappointing end to the NFL season), newly priested and growing into a new role in our faith community, the first thing I have to say to you is this:

Lent scares the bejeezus out of me.

We talked a bit about this @ our Community Group on Thursday night, when I somewhat inartfully used the lyrics to "Transcontinental" as a springboard to get us thinking critically about Lent, what it means, what we really think we're doing by mortifying our flesh, the nature of sin and sanctification, etc. The most poignant response of the night was probably from DM who said: "You really think about sin a lot, don't you?"

Why, yes. Yes, I do.

It's hard to say what scares me about Lent, though. I certainly didn't explain it too well on Thursday. But today I read this from George Herbert's poem "Lent" (p. 84 in The Complete English Works):
Besides the cleanness of sweet abstinence,
Quick thoughts and motions at a small expense,
A face not fearing light:
Whereas in fulness there are sluttish fumes,
Sour exhalations, and dishonest rheums,
Revenging the delight.
In short, the third line doesn't describe me @ all. A face not fearing light? My face, which happens to be attached to my body, positively recoils from true Light, like Daniel Plainview exhorting "Just give me the blood, Eli, and let me get out of here. Give me the blood, Lord, and let me get away!" I'm not sure what I would even be without my particular sins, and I'm loath to let God cut them away. I'll take some salvation, please, but easy on the sanctification, thank you very much. I'm not proud of that; it's just the way it is.

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  • At 10:02 AM, Blogger spankey said…

    oh man Sammy, do I know what you mean. I'm trying Patrick Hall's fast from last year and giving up contempt. It sucks. I never realized how much I use contempt as a survival technique. grrr. I want my sins back.

  • At 11:48 AM, Blogger Sammy said…

    Interesting. A contempt-less Patrick Hall is almost unimaginable to me, a logical impossibility, like a square circle. But good luck w/ your fast, and thanks for your comment. I've also been reminded over the past few days that Fr. Schmemann called Lent a season of "bright sadness." Fr. Fr. Davenport's sermon @ ASA yesterday:

    I regret that we usually make negative, unpleasant associations with Lent, the self-denial, discipline, asceticism, repentance. Traditionally the Church has called it a ‘joyful season.’ Its fruits are learning, growth, reconciliation, new life. Until the thirteenth century, Lent was the word for spring. It signaled renewal and rejuvenation, blossoms blooming and sap flowing, the return of warmth and light. Lent can re-connect us to our deepest desires, for healing, for wholeness, for better relationships, for God.

  • At 9:00 PM, Anonymous Dan said…

    I was reading some old poetry I wrote while in college, and I was struck by how much I was thinking about sin and sin related issues back then. All that to say, it occurs to me that I do think about sin quite a lot, but just in a seasonal sort of way, sometimes a lot at once, and sometimes less frequently. I've just been really struck lately by issues of beauty, by incarnational thinking, which really (for me) overwhelms sin with its gratuity.


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