Show Us the Way . . .

The season of Lent, which begins next week with Ash Wednesday, seems redundant this year. It feels as though Lent has been our reality since about the middle of March 2020 when we first closed the church’s outer doors in response to a pandemic. It seems fitting then, that “Show Us the Way” would be our theme for the season. Borrowing from a book title by Henri Nouwen, Show Me the Way, the brief prayer is for God to guide us through yet another phase of a global ordeal that has been trying for all of us, traumatic for many, and tragic for too many others.

Lent, the church has always said, is at once a wilderness and “the springtime of the soul.” It is the season that is at once austere and abundant—revealing the mystery and paradox of the ways in which God’s grace meets us in sustaining and nourishing ways particularly in the midst of disturbing or disheartening circumstances. The cross and empty tomb toward which the season of Lent leads us are the emblems of that transformative work of God in the world, in our lives, and in our life together. If we are in a pandemic, then deeper runs the hope and promise of creation delivered, humanity healed, life renewed. Already we see signs that point toward overcoming the Covid-19 virus. How do we get there from here? Lord, show us the way . . .

The labyrinth is the image we choose for this Lenten journey. Different from a maze, which would steer us in arbitrary directions, a labyrinth guides our journey, even its twists and turns, toward center, toward self, toward God; then out again, with more zigs and zags and circuits and reversals, gently, trustably leading us toward a place of stepping into life again, perhaps with an insight, a decision, something surrendered, something understood.

The Laurel Heights labyrinth will be in place in the gym during Lent, accessible by reservation on Sundays from 8 to 10 a.m. and from 4 to 6 p.m. Surrounding the labyrinth will be images of journeying; nearby will be a shelf on which to place a stone representing something let go of, or accepted; a wrong forgiven, a faith renewed.

Where is grace at work to reveal the springtime in the wilderness? Where will our journey lead us? What will be the lessons learned, the burdens lifted, the trust engendered, as we travel this labyrinthine path together? Of this we can be assured: we do not travel alone, or unguided. God is with us, to shepherd our souls to life.

Grace and peace.