Lent: Learning to be Human / by Chris Pollock

Rev. Michaele LaVigne

Last Wednesday, I sat with Sunni Mercer’s artwork in the City Pres balcony for a while. The sculptures and words written with each one took to me to places I usually run away from. But that day I sat with them. I allowed myself to feel what I usually shut off, and I found myself in tears as I talked with Jesus about it.

I realized then that I spend a lot of time and energy moving away from failure, and feeling, and fear -- all of which are woven into the fabric of the human existence. None of us lives without emotion, none of us are free from making mistakes or having regrets, and all of us are fearful of what we cannot control. It’s a part of being human, but it doesn’t mean I had to like it. I was really in lament. Or at least I was throwing a pity party.

But then in his goodness, Jesus gently broke into my silence and asked me to look at him. In my mind’s eye I looked up and saw a reassuring smile. He said, “Hey, being human isn’t the worst thing in the world. It is not something to be escaped, or a curse to be endured. Being human is something which, when fully experienced, allows you to fully experience me.”

This is what I love about Jesus, and also what drives me crazy about him. He says things that are so encouraging and yet so troubling at the same time. He reminds me again that he did not come to provide an escape hatch. But he has come to be with us. He comes to us to bring more beauty and good in the midst of our flawed humanity than we could ever imagine possible.

It’s been said that Lent is the most human of all Christian seasons. It is the time we look with eyes wide open at who we really are, and what the world is really like. We don’t have to go searching out something to lament – lament is our response to what we see when we really look. And yet as St. Paul tells us, even when we grieve we do not grieve as those who have no hope. It is in our grief and lament, in our full experience of being human, that we can and do experience the fullness of God himself. This is a mystery and a paradox, but it is one I am grateful to experience without explaining it away.

This Lent, may you experience the fullness of your humanity so that you may experience the fullness of God.

Mortality from Lament: A Congregation of Sojourners. Photo by Ann Sherman.

Mortality from Lament: A Congregation of Sojourners. Photo by Ann Sherman.

Lament: A Congregation of Sojourners will be on display in the balcony at City Pres during the season of Lent. The balcony will be open for viewing and reflection before and after every service. Additionally, we encourage you to attend a time of prayer and communion each Wednesday at 12PM, when you may also spend time with the sculptures. For a full schedule of events during Lent, as well as more information about Lament, go here.