Finding the answers to the ‘Lenten question’
“What does our faith,” she asked, “have to do with his power?”
It was Ash Wednesday services at the little church on the corner where like Christians the world over, we began the journey to Easter.
I watched as a tall, young man in sock feet, his hair pulled back at his neck in a pony tail, waited patiently in line for the Stations of the Cross. This night, the Stations of the Cross are symbolically represented by women and men, who impose ashes on the palm of the hand, pour water over the palm and wipe it clean, apply scented oil, serve communion bread and wine, and offer a blessing.
Prior to receiving a blessing this year, each sojourner was asked to imprint a thumb on a disc of clay as a covenant to give up and take something on for Lent. I watched the young college student pause momentarily and push his thumb down into the clay. What, I wondered, was he thinking?
And what did my faith have to do with his thinking?
What did this service have to do with my faith; my journey through the forty days of Lent, until Easter? Why was I taking that journey with this little church, in this little town, even as we were sharing this walk with believers all over the world?
In a world that seems to have drifted away from its moral center, this particular journey seems incredibly significant; to take that journey with others who are also struggling, wondering, questioning is to affirm that who we are and what we believe as a people makes a difference-in our own lives and the lives of others.
In the pew in front of me was another boy — this one about six or seven. Unlike the college student who waited in line, this youngster in black sweat pants and tee shirt, lolled around restlessly, scratched on a piece of paper with a pencil, and gazed at the ceiling. From time to time, his mother held his head in her lap and stroked his wayward hair.
Later, his mother patiently guided him through the Stations of the Cross; helped him wipe his hand, make a thumb print in the clay, obtain his blessing and return to his seat where she cuddled him in her arms and stroked his head tenderly.
I couldn’t help but think of another mother and what she must have felt as she stroked the head of her young son; not knowing but sensing how his story was to unfold.
None of us knows how our life’s story will unfold. What we can do is approach the unfolding with the belief that faith will make us whole. We take this Lenten journey then, in search of that faith, in search of the answer to her question: What part does faith play in his power in our lives — yours and mine?