Lent is a fairly depressing time for me. I choose to let it be that way, but I cannot ignore the traditions I have been raised with. I could ignore the fact that this is the time we reflect on our sins, for which Christ, sinless, was hung on a cross, and hung there in agony for three hours. This is the time we reflect on how all that we have done and do and will do brought him to Jerusalem for the Last Supper, and into the Garden of Gethsemane where Satan tempted Him to lay down His cross and be done with it, with us. God couldn't have faulted Him, as He was and is God, and was and is sinless. But Jesus did not abandon us, He did not walk away, as He had every right to. Instead, He carried His cross, walked the path to Golgotha, and hung on the cross to cry "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabacthani?" ("My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?") These words echo through my mind all through Lent. It becomes my cry, my agony. On Palm Sunday, Catholics around the world recite the Lord's Passion. The congregation says certain parts aloud, while the narration, the part of Christ, and the part of other individual speakers are read by the priest and lectors. It is a powerful experience for me. If you are a Christian and have never come to a Palm Sunday Mass (whether or not you are Catholic) I would suggest you go. Watching the Passion (Mel Gibson's movie) was a powerful experience to be sure, but to place yourself in the shoes of and to be the voice of the people who shouted "Crucify Him! Crucify Him!" is to understand that none of us are above reproach. It gives new meaning to understanding that we are all sinners. It's humbling to realize that the sins in our life led Christ to the cross just as surely as those people and the chief priests and scribes who stirred the crowd to hatred of Him. When you realize that Christ not only died for your sins, but that He died BECAUSE of your sins, and went to Calvary literally carrying the weight of every sin ever committed since the beginning of time and every sin ever to be committed until the end of time, it is the most humbling experience you will likely ever have. It has brought me to bitter tears more than once.
That being said, I can usually shake off the depression of Lent for the joy of Easter. When I hear "Allelujah! Allelujah! He is RISEN TODAY!" My heart swells, tears of joy fill my eyes. I remember that my Lord is with me always, He knows I am sorry for my sins, and He forgives me for everything. I feel light and free; gone is the weight of what I have done, replaced with an unrelenting grace and joy that can only be from God.
That didn't happen this year. I wonder if it is because I have stepped away from God's path for my life, or if it is because I have stepped away from Him without realizing it. Easy and gentle are the first steps of path that leads away from God's love and grace, and we often don't realize that we are on that path until we find ourselves completely lost and without direction and crying "Eloi, ELOI! Lama sabacthani?" I still pray and meditate on the glories of God, and I know He is there, but I feel as though I've done something that has seperated me from Him. Those fateful words still echo through my mind, and Easter did not hold the joy it should have. As I think back, Easter has not held that joy for a few years, and I wonder how long I have been off the path of goodness and righteousness. My heart and soul are parched and long for the river of God's grace, but my feet cannot seem to find the way. Where did I stop following God's Will for my life? When did I look down and despair of my dirty feet on the narrow path, and see an easier way I thought would be better? When did I stop trusting in the Lord for fear of myself? I still recognize the Spirit within me, for I still praise God and see His miracles and graces. Many people don't realize that you needn't follow Satan to stop following the Lord. There are many paths, but only one leads to God. I know that God is still with me, but I fear that I am not with Him.
Please, Lord, I am a lost sheep and need You to come find me, for I haven't the strength to return to You. I am desperate for You, Lord. I try to run to You and find that I have only the strength to crawl. I no longer understand the path you have set for me, and I do not see Your Will. Lead me to where You want me, Lord. Make me Yours again, and show me Your Will. Only You are worthy, only You deserve my praise, my heart, and my life. Open my eyes, Lord, that I may see the way back to You. Open my ears, that I may hear Your sweet voice. Open my heart, that I may know You again. Please, Lord, I need You.