“Behind is your past. Everything you thought you knew…You listen for the voice of the Divine.
You’re waiting for a miracle. You’re waiting for the sea to part…That’s an old miracle…What about this?
What if the miracle was you? What if you had to be your own Messiah? Then what?”
The above excerpt is a monologue given by Raquel, a rabbi and character in the first episode of Season 3 of the show Transparent, a show about a Jewish trans woman and her family. Really, it’s talking about the Passover and Israel’s wandering in the wilderness for 40 years.
I watched that episode over a year ago probably and went back and watched it yesterday because that monologue is something that stuck with me. Especially since this is my first year understanding Lent as more than giving something up for 6 weeks leading up to Easter.
Even now I’m struggling with writing this post. More so, how to articulate my first Ash Wednesday service–I haven’t fully been able to process it. But I understand the wandering and lament parts of Lent. One of my pastors who is also a very good friend of mine imposed ashes on my forehead and…how do you explain that in words? The next day, there were ashes still in the crease in my forehead.
Still not sure if it’s appropriate to say that I am celebrating Lent or observing it. Or both? I don’t know. But I’m trying to spend it in adding disciplines instead of taking something away because it seems to be more beneficial to me. So, I’ve been reading through Soong-Chan Rah’s book Prophetic Lament which takes you through Lamentations and the lack of lament in our churches/the need for us to practice lament again. For example:
“For American evangelicals riding on the fumes of a previous generation’s assumptions, a triumphalistic theology of celebration and privilege rooted in a praise-only narrative is perpetuated by the absence of lament and the underlying narrative of suffering that informs lament. The loss of lament in the American church reflects a serious theological deficiency.”
It’s a great read and I highly recommend it. And anything else Soong-Chan Rah writes for that matter (Forgive Us and Many Colors are two others that I’ve read; they’re incredible.). Anyway, that’s the theology nerd coming out in me.
I am also taking time to sort of study what I consider modern day laments–certain poets like Rupi Kaur and musicians like Ingrid Michaelson (break up songs, anyone?). It’s a bit of a weird journey my mind’s taken me on, but it’s been helpful in learning. Don’t get me wrong…lament I get. I’m in a place in life where lament makes so much sense to me. What’s difficult is making myself sit still long enough to process it and sit in the tension.
That I’m not so good at. I guess Lent isn’t exactly a celebration until the end. Everything builds up to the celebration, though. There’s a lot of mourning and death in between. Lately, in processing all this, I’m finding that all that sitting in stillness is a reminder that I’m lonely and wandering a lot these days. Battling with feelings of not being enough. Or having enough. Lent reminds me of a need and wants that I don’t always pay attention to.
I long for someone to look at me and say, You are enough just the way you are. You are enough, and I see you. And I don’t want to change you. In the past, I kept looking for that validation in my family and finding it lacking. Recently, I’ve looked for it in my closest friends and church community, finding it wonderful that I am loved and belong. Yet still…is it enough? Am I enough? Am I giving enough to be loved by these people? Or is there…more?
Is there more to life that I’m missing? How is all this contemplation helping if I just feel more longing for what’s missing? Israel wandering in the wilderness probably asked some similar questions. They had what they needed. They had a great leader in Moses and yet were always aware of wanting more. More of…something that can’t be completely satisfied.
I feel so often that there was much I was deprived of by way of experiencing the world outside my sheltered existence. It took me so long to “catch up” on pop culture. Watching movies, tv shows, and listening to music everyone else listens to. Will I ever achieve a sense of normalcy? I don’t know. I wish I could settle for being myself. For being enough just as I am. And being ok with everything and everyone being enough in my life. This Lenten season I’m trying to rest in knowing that I am enough.
And also, Jesus became like us and became enough when I could not be. That’s what this is all about. And I don’t want to miss that. Still, we live in a world that is chaotic. Messy. Painful. Our hearts yearn for something better than this. It’s a thing yet to come. So until then, we live in the tension of the now and not yet. We’re hanging out in the wilderness, wandering until we get where we’re going. But in time, I think we’ll get there.