Ash Wednesday marked the beginning of Lent — the period of 40 days that precedes Easter (excluding Sundays which remain forever days of resurrection celebration). 40 days is the great Biblical metaphor for new life — hinting towards the 40 weeks of a woman’s pregnancy reaching full-term. Lent is therefore an invitation for us to be open to conceive, labour and birth new life. In doing so, we fulfill our calling to imitate Jesus who came to bring new and abundant life.
This is why confession has always gone hand-in-hand with Lent. Confession is the courage to wrestle with the truth of our lives in the presence of another. Not so that they may forgive us — but that they may help us to accept the truth of our lives, as well as to accept the already-available forgiveness of God. You see, we can only fully confess (dare to touch the truth of our life) if we know that we are already fully forgiven. The grace of knowing that we are held is what sets us free to vulnerably let go. Only when I know that I am loved can I face the unlovable-ness of who I am.
Before we ask God to reveal to us our sin (our addictive self-centeredness) let us ask God to reveal to us God’s grace.
Defining sin as “addictive self-centeredness” reminds us that there are areas of our living that are uncontrollably dependent on that which is killing us (and others). And please let us not reduce addiction to alcohol and other drugs — some of us are addicted to blaming, exaggerating, working, interfering, controlling, gossiping and the like … all destructive in their own way. To give up any addiction feels like we are dying. So let us pray for God to remind us that birth may often feel like death. It is Lent — it is time to get pregnant.