That barbed, venomous weapon I wield so deftly against the ones for whom I have the greatest love, of whom I am charged with care and keeping. My tongue rends hearts; scarring, cutting, leaving marks that can’t be seen, or undone.Monday, I tried to keep my tongue behind my teeth. Little feet dawdled. Little hands sought play instead of the tasks that propel us out the door to school and life. Little eyes locked with mine in flat-out defiance. “You-can’t-make-me-brush-my-teeth-if-you-can’t-talk.” Shoes were missing, breakfasts sat uneaten; running up and down the stairs was more pressing than getting-out-the-door-so-we’re-not-late. And my wild gesticulating, rigid fingers pointing from packs to little backs, miming the next steps, brought only quizzically cocked heads. And more rebellious immobility.
I broke. I opened my mouth and used my most effective weapon. I stood, less than 2 hours into my fast, and smashed little heart pieces with the force of my words, the outpouring of my heart. Little eyes bulged. “You’re talking. You’re not supposed to.”
“You promised God.”
How many times have I promised God? How many nights have I lain in bed, lamenting the day? Please, Father, give me another chance tomorrow. A chance to love them better, the way you love me. A chance to speak life, a chance to use words that build up; a chance to love better.And every time coming up short.
A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.But that’s what Lent does. It takes all my promises and strivings, and shows me where I come up short. Lent is about dying. It strips away at human effort and strength, until all that’s left is what’s underneath. Rusted, rotting places that have to be uncovered in order to be worked on. Lent is evidence of outward failure and destruction, so that the soul-bones beneath can be exposed and healed.
God’s promises outlast mine. God’s promises are fulfilled.That’s where Lent leads. To blood. To the cross. To a death.
Human striving is never enough. It all ends in death. Lent leads us not only to death, but through it. Through to the resurrection. Through to life in grace.
A promise fulfilled.Glass promises, from my lips, will always break. But universe-fabric promises will hold fast; because Love does not break. The promise of Jesus’ life in exchange for mine. For yours. An absolute-eternal vow.
Him for me. Him for you.
Love for brokenness.Life for death. This is the way of Lent.