This coming Wednesday my sister from out West will have ashes placed on her forehead and then she will go to her job looking humble and lovely. I am so happy for her. In two weeks we plan to meet-up and then for a while we will climb the holy mountain together! I know it won’t be easy and we will have to take turns giving each other lifts over big fallen tree trunks but when we get there we will be radiant and beautiful like brides.
Today I am sitting and waiting on a big rock that looks like the little toe of the mountain’s foot. When I look up I can’t even see the top for all the trees. There aren’t too many people here yet. This is where all of the aspiring immortals will meet leaving behind the billions of mortals who don’t like to climb or who don’t believe that there is anything special at the top. I am here early, not because I want to be at the beginning of the line, that would never happen since my sister will go first, but just because I feel so sluggish and dirty and I know that this is where I must go to get better.
While I’m sitting here waiting I wonder why Jesus went into the wilderness for 40 whole starving days after He was baptized. I wonder if it had anything to do with the 40 days that Noah and his family had to deal with the devastating rains, or the 40 days that Moses spent with God when he received the Ten Commandments from Him. I wonder if Jesus, when He was in the desert for 40 days, thought about how His ancestors ate manna for 40 years after they left Pharaoh's grip in Egypt or about how they wandered through the desert for another 40 years of punishment because when they went to spy out the promised land (for 40 days) everyone but Joshua and Caleb didn't trust God that it could be theirs and if all this has anything to do with the fact that Jesus, after the resurrection walked around the earth for 40 days, eating and drinking, and visiting with His friends before He went to stay in God.
I read that God kept the Israelites wandering for 40 years to reach the Promised Land to humble and to test them, to know what was in their heart, whether or not they would keep His commands. Maybe forty years is a time of real testing and forty days is the tenth tithe part of that, the triumphant cream on top for people like Noah and Moses and Jesus who God already knows and simply wants to talk with or to protect. As for me during the forty day climb, I wonder if I should pretend that I’m in the ark hiding from all the deadliness around me or that every day of Lent is like a year of eating manna and being guided by a cloud to the Promised Land.
While I’m sitting here and waiting for everyone to show up and for the march to begin I also wonder why the difference between the word immortal and the word immoral is just one little ‘t’ in the middle and if that has anything to do with the big wooden T that tried to kill Christ forever. The + separates the immorals from the immortals. Hey, I like that!