This week's reading has been the best combination of tough and great. I worked my way through J.H. Nouwen's The Return of the Prodigal Son, reading which (I will hide nothing from you) caused a whole lot of self-assessment and crying and resolution making. I can guarantee that I'll be returning to this book more than once as time goes on.
It's an excellent reflection on the Lukan parable, especially in its assertion that while we can easily identify with one or both of the sons, we're ultimately called to take on the role of the father, who is welcoming, joyful, and celebrates both his sons. A) That's a tall order. B) What an opportunity to shift perspective! Yes, we can spend lots of time reflecting on our shortcomings and seeking reconciliation like the two sons, and these are valuable practices that should never stop. But! BUT! The book and the parable are a reminder that there's also a call to step into spiritual maturity and work on bigger things than just my own faults and concerns, as overwhelming as those concerns can sometimes become.
Here's my somewhat goofy but potentially interesting for you to think with knitting-ish analogy. When I'm being all graspy and wanty and tied up in my own concerns, I find it helpful to visualize myself taking a skein of yarn that represents whatever it is I'm griping about/mooning over and physically handing it over to God so I can stop worrying about it for a while. Inevitably, I end up holding the skein again and having to hand it over again, but it's still a helpful image of letting go and not spending all my energy imagining 8000 possible scenarios and outcomes.
In this visualization, God is like the owner of the best yarn store ever, so he's on the other side of the store's counter and he keeps all my awesome daydreams and complaints and "projects" over in his storeroom for more appropriate times when they can actually get dealt with instead of just worried about. However, if I'm called to be like the father of the prodigal son, I don't always have to stand on the opposite side of the counter from God just dealing with my own personal stash o' yarn. I can still hand stuff over for restocking or safekeeping or frogging and reskeining, but I can also go stand on that side of the counter and work on projects or spinning or whatever and share the results with other people who come into the store. Plus those other people also get to help with the stash and the crafting, and there are a whole bunch of us behind the counter working on stuff together.
See? Totally nerdy knitting analogy for the Lenten journey, accompanied by photos of a hat made out of handspun, a gift for my friend J's birthday. Happy Sunday.