Friday, March 3, 2017

The Season of Lent: Giving Up Or Taking On?

For Christians, the season of Lent began with Ash Wednesday and some are doing the traditional “giving up” of something or another.  Usually this is done following a Shrove Tuesday event where one gorges oneself with pancakes, pastries or other such goodies—the “giving up” begins the next day!  Some will “give up” eating chocolate or meat, still others will “give up” some habit or another, while still others will give up “Facebook” or something similar.    During my active ministry I encouraged the faithful to “take on” something rather than “giving up” something.  “Take on” being a better neighbor, wife, husband, son, daughter.  “Take on” a stranger for a friend and other similar exercises of that nature.  My encouragement of such “take on” practices during Lent went over about as well as my insistence that Christmas is a season of twelve days rather than one day!  I still think there are more “take on’s” in Jesus’ teaching than there are “giving up’s,” but traditions (no matter how irrational) must continue (so they say) even if we don’t know why.  “Take my cross upon you, and learn of me.”

We left Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument late yesterday morning and traveled (route 86 east) a few hundred miles across the Sonoran Desert and the Tohono O’Odham Nation (Native American reservation) to Benson, Arizona.  We thought about staying at Organ Pipe another day and night,  but decided, instead, to return another time. (How’s that for faith?) We drove over a poorly-paved and maintained road through the Tohono O’Odham Nation.  As soon as we crossed the boundary line, we encountered new road construction (and new housing developments).  Enough said!  There are walls of many kinds.

I have no idea where we may end up today—perhaps Las Cruces, New Mexico or El Paso, Texas or even somewhere else—and it doesn’t matter!  Wherever we arrive at the end of the day, we will find friendly people and safe haven.    Our Odysseus (RV) has carried us over 117,000 (as of yesterday) back and forth across this country, north, central, south, west, east for the past seven years and we travel unafraid.  Now that is something one can “take on” in Lent—following Jesus’ teaching to “Be Not Afraid.”  Why not?  It seems to be very much needed right now.  “Take on” trust, faith, hope, and stop being afraid! 

The Sonoran Desert

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