1st Week of Lent
- 03.14.19. Introduction – Jessica Gapasin Dennis
- 03.15.19. Not All Who Wander Are Lost – The Rev. Annabelle Peake Markey
2nd Week of Lent
- 03.20.19. Unrushed – Minh Cang
- 03.21.19. An Outstretched Hand – Emily McDermott
- 03.22.19. Fasting From Busyness – Andrew Marshall
BY JESSICA GAPASIN DENNIS
Death by a thousand cuts.
I remember hearing someone use this phrase once and thinking to myself: Yes. This person has somehow found the perfect metaphor for my relationship with to-do lists right now. I am literally dying by a thousand paper cuts.
Mind you, I’ve managed to do this my entire life — complain about how I’m doing too many things, scale back, some arbitrary amount of time goes by, and I’m right back to where I started. I often wonder what my life looks like from God’s perspective.
The 20-something year-old version of me would have given herself a hard time for not being disciplined enough or focused enough or for doing something too much or too little. The possibilities of “where I went wrong” were always dizzying, but there was always this underlying theme of, If I could just get through this, then maybe I won’t feel like such a mess, like I’m always running behind. Just one more thing, then I won’t feel like I’m drowning.
Frankly, the now version of me goes through that fun thought exercise a lot more often than I’d like to admit. Mainly because I know now, through trial and many errors, that IT’S ALL A TRICK.
That feeling of accomplishment when you cross that last thing off your checklist? When you’ve de-cluttered and finally purged every room in your house? It’s fleeting, at best. The list, the de-cluttering never actually ends.
That sense of pride when you think you’ve finally figured out your morning routine, which group class is your favorite, which productivity app will solve everything? You will never actually figure it all out. There’s always another wrench that will be thrown into your masterplan.
It’s all a trick.
I can’t help but wonder if the writer of Ecclesiastes was a kindred spirit:
But when I turned to all the works that my hands had wrought, and to the fruit of the toil for which I had toiled so much, see! all was vanity and a chase after wind. There is no profit under the sun (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
As we approach the second Sunday of Lent, I’m slowly awakening to the realization that I’m tired of chasing the wind. That my desire for perfection, for meeting the mark, for hitting the target is not the same perfection which God calls us to. Perhaps it’s time to recognize that the feeling that I seek — the feeling that I’m okay, that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, that feeling of shalom — is not hidden in the goal or the prize.
I find Lisa Sharon Harper’s commentary on the Hebrew (versus Greek) understanding of perfection, grounded in Genesis 1, worth pondering:
In the Hebrew conception of the world, all of creation is connected. The well-being of the whole depends on the well-being of each individual part. The Hebrews’ conception of goodness was different that of the Greeks’. The Greeks located perfection within the object itself. A thing or a person strove towards perfection. But the Hebrews understood goodness to be located between things. As a result, the original hearers would have understood tov [Hebrew for “good”] to refer to the goodness of the ties and relationships between things in creation (The Very Good Gospel 31).
As I wrap up today’s reflection, it would seem fitting that this year’s Lenten journey takes place with a fuller awareness of the ties that exist between myself and my fellow travelers. I’ve asked several of my friends, from various parts of my life, to reflect on the theme of Wanderings + Homecomings. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting their writing and Scripture reflections. May we continue our journey to the cross with the knowledge that we walk with each other.