1 The Mystical No

Yesterday for almost fourteen hours I sat up high in the small cubic cab of a big red truck with a big young chocolate lab and a young man. All three of us yearned to be at our destination from the moment we started our journey in the darkness before the dawn through each of about one hundred thousand moments, one at a time. The trip was fraught with delays. There was the periodic need for fuel for the truck, and the dog, and the man, and me; there was rain and traffic, and there was a detour that took us thirty minutes out of our way when we thought we would have to run an errand—all of these frustrating delays increased the intensity of our desire to arrive.

What made the journey especially grueling was that the young man was grieving and during this long time in the small cab he presented a range of emotions from anger, fear, disbelief, to kindness, patience, and a pinch of wisdom. I felt as if I was on a tiny roller coaster inside a bottle. When after twelve hours we thought the end was near, the highway suddenly appeared to be so jammed packed with vehicles that we left it altogether and took the longer way through a small city until finally in new darkness, the truck, the dog, and the grieving young man and I arrived home where we were able to separate ourselves from one another and shower and rest in comfortable beds, except for the big red truck of course which, if it could feel, I’m sure would have been content to be still.

I wonder if this year the Lenten journey will be as arduous as the one I was on yesterday. Perhaps if it is I will be just as relieved to arrive at the destination−Easter. If I want Easter as much as I wanted to be home yesterday, and if the way to Easter is as grueling, slow, and rife with frustrations then I think I could become hyper-aware of mankind’s journey from this world to the Kingdom of God.   

I don’t want to get to Easter just because Time whisks me there; I want to walk every step, climb every hill and wade through every muddy stream to travel to the Paschal place of eternal-life made-possible, of reunion with the Creator God and Father.  “No” is the only way to become aware of the journey through Lenten days.  With the use of the “Mystical No” during Lent we enter a small cab, much like the cab of the big red truck where outside there is a world of things that we can’t experience because we are consciously traveling.

In the Gospel of Matthew (6:24) Jesus said that, “No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”During Lent, to serve the world with its series of satisfied lusts is to refuse to reflect Christ’s sacrificial mission. As with God and mammon, we can’t serve both, lust for comfort and the Spirit.

Christ never asked us to worship Him as we do an actor on stage to be viewed from afar, impressed by his talent and beauty, but rather to follow Him through the roller coaster ride of rejection and glorification to the moment of death in this world and the reopening of the broken bridge to God the Father and our Creator.

Dear fellow aspiring immortal through our willingness to leave comfort in our wake let’s prepare for the painstaking journey of Lent and the marvels we may encounter as we travel in a small cubic cab to the empty tomb.