Lent: The Bright Sadness

2 03 2010

Alexander Schmemann in his book, “Great Lent” calls this season of preparation a “bright sadness.”  During the Lenten season, we may set certain things aside, or discipline ourselves, or peer into the dark places of our souls– but if we do, we do it for the promised joy of new and resurrected life in Christ.  As Dallas Willard has stated (in “The Divine Conspiracy”), we set aside the costume jewelry of the world  for the real crown jewels of the Kingdom of God.  In another set of images, C.S. Lewis, in his famous sermon, “The Weight of Glory” insists that we walk away from the seeming fun of making “mud pies in the slum” and accept Jesus’ invitation for a “holiday at sea.”  And so Jesus, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”  (Hebrews 12:2, ESV)   Whether you fast or not this Lent, remember that what your soul is really hungering for is a genuine participation in the life and joy of the Trinity.  May it be so!




2 responses

18 04 2010
Jason Wagner

The “mud pies in the slum for a holiday at sea” image lost me. Was Lewis talking about Lent specifically or was he talking about conversion in general? Are you comparing Lent to a holiday at sea? Being out to sea does not sound like much of a holiday. Making mud pies is pretty useless and childish, are you saying that what we do the rest of the year is useless and childish? Being out to sea doesn’t seem like much of an improvement. It just seems like an odd quote to include in this blog. I suspect your point is worth more development.

18 04 2010
Rich Wollan

A clarification is definitely in order. Although, in my defense, (and I suppose this falls into the category of excuse making), that particular post was my first and I did it late at night, essentially off the top of my head. I was testing the whole “blog” thing. I think I attempted to string together too many ideas in a short space.

At any rate, I see the Lewis quote as pertinent not so much to the season of Lent itself but to what Lent inexorably leads us to: new and resurrected life– participation in the life of the Trinity. Lenten practices are important because when we fast food, or set aside TV or the internet we are reminded that our favorite food or TV show can all to easily become a god that we turn to for comfort, happiness, or pleasure. When this happens these things become the “mud pies” of our broken world. Taking up fasting is a crucial way for us to accept Jesus’ invitation to a “holiday at sea” (i.e. “vacation at the beach” is how we Americans would say it). Fasting the earthly creates hunger for the heavenly. It instills in us the truth of the one place where our hunger for true life can be sated. Making mud pies is about as much fun as one can expect in a slum. (Lewis talks about how we mess around with things like drink and sex thinking such things are the height of pleasure when all the glory, joy, and pleasure of God and his Kingdom have been made available to us. He says that our problem is not that we desire too much, but too little). Our vision and imagination must be lifted. Lent provides the tools for that lifting.

Speaking of mud, my clarification may be just that! Oh well.


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