Lent is the 40 days before Easter when human beings are supposed to spend some time in darkness. In doubt, frustrations, and raised fists. And uncertainty. It’s a time when we don’t have to know everything. That alone can be the most liberating feeling on the planet.
I’ve always been a person who leans into the dark side of life… a little. Depeche Mode was my band growing up. That foreboding, grungy feel just sat right with me and not because I was depressed but, looking back, because it felt more honest.
Lent is a chance to be honest.
One of the more powerful things I’ve ever been involved in at our church was a Lent service in which there were four black boards put in the middle of the room and all the chairs were removed.
We invited people to write their gripes, their complaints, their pain, their doubt, their anger on those walls in silver paint. We promised no answers, no solutions and no comfort… just the exhale of pain.
Reading those walls was stunning. To everyone.
Churches come off so clean and sparkly sometimes and this was nothing but dirty and messy honest reflections of sexual assault, addiction, anger at God (if God exists) and overall beautiful honesty of the hard things in life.
It’s in the darkness where we learn that there is still good. It’s in the darkness where we learn that life only comes from death.
It’s in the darkness that we are honest and free to admit what life is actually like and to be okay with not knowing all the answers.
As I type this, yesterday we, again did something similar at our church. The microphone was added to those who wanted to express pain and uncertainty amidst the pain.
I found myself crying at the end of the service in front of the entire church - not something I usually do - but because it was so moving and powerful to be a part of.
I don’t think it’s the darkness we are afraid of. The fear of a cave is very different than the fear of the night sky. It might not be the dark but the lack of freedom we often perceive there to be within it.
I think we miss a lot by trying to disinfect our lives from anything close to darkness, but when we do that we miss the chance to sit under the dark night sky and be overwhelmed by its majesty, mystery, and endless expansion and freedom.
I suppose giving up chocolate can be good, but spending time reflecting on and being honest about the pain, death, and suffering that surround us all the time, is even better.
Even in June.