Someone asked me to write about Lent, which I'm going to do in a moment. But first I have to mention that I am very distracted because a church very close to my heart is going through some major trouble. They've had an evaluation that came back with horrible results, including recommendations that all of the pastors resign (I don't get that at all). The senior pastor, who I know very well, and his wife, the minister of music, are devastated and confused. Please send up prayers for them.
Now on to Lent. This year started with my first attempt at really keeping a lenten fast - I was going to try to fast over lunchtime, and also not eat out. Well, those both went the way of the dinosaur within a week. I was just too darn hungry at lunch (and my energy level was dropping alarmingly, not good for someone who does as much as me), and while not eating out was a noble idea, when you have two students in the house with wacky schedules and you're moving, the convenience of take out is almost a necessity. So oh, well. I was kind of frustrated by the whole rules thing anyway. It was making me focus too much on what I was missing rather than what I was gaining from the discipline (would that have gone away?).
Lent is a time for self-examination and confession before God. It is a time when we acknowledge our failings so that Christ's saving power becomes all the more real to us, and we can truly celebrate the miracle of Easter when the time comes.
I have certainly been practicing a deep self-examination this Lent, and I have you and blogger to thank for it. I have learned so much about myself from our recent conversations as I work through these desires I have. And I think I may have come to a major realization about myself.
Apart from the general married-person desire for first-time-flutters, I think that these things I am talking about are much more platonic than they may feel. Let me try to explain.
I think it boils down to this: I have a huge amount of love. I love to make new friends because it gives me the opportunity to love more people. I treasure my old friends because I've been able to love them for so long. This is probably because God pours out this amazing amount of love on me and it can only spill over to those around me. I feel so completely loved by God.
In my subconscious, then, the love is manifest in romantic ways, because that's the best way my human mind can express how strong it is. The deepest feelings we humans can muster usually manifest in sexual attraction, since that's the strongest connection and the most whole-body love we can feel. While I may not even think of someone as a potential romantic target, in my dreams he or she is that way, because I simply am so delighted to know him or have her as my friend. The best way my little mind can get around this all-consuming love that pours out from heaven is to tell me it feels like romance.
I love my friends so much. I am so priveleged to know each of you. If I know you in person, please know that I am head over heels for you. You are incredibly special and deeply loved.
And if I only know you by this blog, I treasure you so much for the way you call me on things, and examine me, and care enough to read me, and you share yourself with me. You are so very loved.
Lent is about deprivation and solitude and seems to be so dark. But it is also about the most triumphantly loving act ever performed in all of history. Let love lead you through this season, until the great orgasmic release of Easter.
Thanks be to God!!
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I have to tell you that I thoroughly enjoy your blog - I check it at least once a day. You bring up topics that really make me think and you've influenced many of my conversations. Thank you for adding spice to my life! :)
Thanks for posting on Lent so quickly.
That's a great view: that your subconscious translates the expansiveness of your love into romance. I often find myself developing crushes on friends as the relationship grows and I think you've identified the reason.
Unfortunately, that translation seems to result in the hyper-sensitivity that accompanies crushes, which means I get hurt, and I've only once exposed myself to the extent of letting the friend know. It takes real courage for you to put yourself out like that.
Anyway, your blog's great. Say hi if you get up to Santa Barbara.
PS - Since you respond to requests, it would be great if you had a way to email you in your profile.
I very much enjoy your blog as well...it's on my own blog's list o' links.;-)
I think your love for other people is manifesting itself in your willingness to be completely frank and transparent in your posts...which I'm sure has helped many of your readers think about their own personal issues with more courage and clarity. I'm a non-significantly-othered person (or signficantly non-othered person, depending on how I feel on any given day) -- more by Sitz im Leben than by choice -- with my own set of issues to deal with as far as how to live in the world; I'm not sure I'm quite ready to discuss my own struggles with your bravery and candidness, but I appreciate your willingness to do so.
i was parusing through old blogs and finally saw your comment on Being John Malkovich and Philosophy of Religion. We were requried to watch the movie to talk about what it means to be a human being and the whole mind-body problem, so yes, J was right, it is more philosophy of mind than religion. we covered a lot of topics that semester. anyway, my favourite course this semester is african american restoration history. how are your studies going?
Love absolutely has its erotic component, its physical pull, even when it is felt towards someone with whom we would never have an actual sexual relationship.
Here's what's risky. When you leave seminary and the world of friends and colleagues and equal relationships, you go out into the church to serve. And understanding boundaries is crucial to pastoral ministry. You may meet people in the parish who give you the flutters, but you absolutely cannot share that with them. I say this not because I am in favor of repression, but because doing so would be abusive of your pastoral authority and the unequal relationship you have, by definition, with your parishioners.
Perhaps I am saying something that you know or that seems obvious, but I haven't heard it stated in other comments or from you and feel moved to do so.
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