Saturday, February 21, 2015

lilies in the midst of Lent

And the lost heart stiffens and rejoices 
In the lost lilac and the lost sea voices 
And the weak spirit quickens to rebel

--T.S. Eliot, Ash Wednesday

We are so easily influenced by whatever pleasing images are around us,
we are so apt to pursue what the people around us are pursuing.
If you are surrounded by a group of people that values That's What She Said jokes, and makes them all the time, then you, whether you like it or not, will find yourself making them in your head, usually quite often.
If you are surrounded by a group of people that decides the Most Important Thing is coming away from the bar with a pretty young thing attached to your side, then you are going to also begin to attach more importance to this than perhaps you otherwise would have.

These are rather trite examples, but they are the ones I have experienced first hand.

You notice, all of a sudden, several months in, that you have changed.
Because you have placed value on these things you would otherwise not have, you have been warped a little bit.
And you barely even noticed, because you weren't trying to change anything about yourself. You weren't conscious of anything different about your daily routine. But a change took place: a change in your mind; the images that fill our world, like it or not, can have a great influence who we are.

The awareness is the key thing. If you were never made aware, then the images would have just seeped into your brain, teaching your heart what to desire, teaching your eyes what to admire. But now that you are aware, you can startle yourself out of just passive acceptance.

You can take a critical eye towards the narrative that surrounds you. But only if you have discovered what that narrative is, only if you have gained a new level of attention.

Lent is this time set aside where we can begin to detach ourselves from whatever we need detaching from, and step back to take stock of where we are and who we are. This is truly a blessed time of the year: a gentle, somber time. When we retreat inside because of the slush and ice outside, and retreat inside of ourselves to do a pre-emptive spring cleaning. And when we push against the mindlessness of the world outside, the unthinking idea that life is just sensations, emotions, and moments, strung together, with no object.
This is the time when we can clarify the object, sharpen our senses, remember the telos.
This is the time where we can loose ourselves from the false images that press upon us.

And then, once freed, you can begin to live in the joy that is another way.

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