“If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.” [Isaiah 58:9-10]
Oh the promises God gives in so many different voices. I am slow. I am slow to respond with internal change.
I am reading a book by John Sarno, M.D. on healing back pain (and many other aches & pains) through a mind-body connection that we have lost. And in it, he says how slowly the subconscious responds to change. In another venue (not sure if it was a book, web site, or magazine article), I read about the difficulties that overweight people have in maintaining their weight loss and that the body, for many years even, wants to return to its former (heavier) state. It’s literally a battle within for the psyche to accept the “new you.” Or, I think of more serious scenarios where abused and battered women stay in marriages and partnerships because it became the norm and a “new normal” hard to imagine.
These illustrations reveal tendencies in my personal spirit too. I have a comfort zone within which my spirit does not adapt out of easily. Our bodies, our minds, and our spirits experience a time of confusion when we try something new, when we step out of the familiar, when we dip our toes into unknown waters.
How do you walk into the ocean? Do you run full tilt and jump headlong into the frigid waves, exulting in that blasting sensation? Or, are you like me, slowly wading in and letting each body part get used to the water before going the next step, the next depth. Only when the ocean takes charge and bursts over my plan do I give in and dunk in. But there are times when I don’t even get past my knees. Maybe the first steps are too cold or too rocky or too slimy and I turn back. I don’t give the ocean a chance to envelope me. I go back to the sand (and really how comfortable is that?).
There are four parts to a complete Lenten experience: fasting (the change up), prayer (the conversation),generosity (reaching out to others), and confession (owning up to our mistakes). This is the perfect time to enter the ocean of God’s love, God’s invitation, Christ’s work, and the Holy Spirit’s waters. Whether slow or fast, the time is now.
I will never be one to jump in with full abandon. But I do commit to a slower journey. I choose it. I choose to work inward so that my outward self becomes less judgmental, more connected, and filled with the Light of Christ. I want my night to become like noonday. It’s a process. And like everyone else, it’s outside my comfort zone.