Am I?

mardi-grasI sent myself several pictures today of the house in progress, and like normal, I erased them off the phone as soon as I pressed “send”. None of them showed up in my e-mail. A physical record of this day had been lost somewhere in cyber space and now – there is no way to get it back.

Days in our lives are like that. Sometimes months and years are like that.

Another Shrove Tuesday has come and gone. Some have put on their colorful beads and masks and enjoyed the day. I’m sure lots of selfies were snapped. In New Hampshire it was a voting day. Tons of selfies were snapped here. For many – this is a day that turns into crazy celebrations about the joy of life, eating amazing foods and fatty sweets, drinking the wine of life in huge quantities and dancing in the streets unto the wee hours of the morning. A total Mardi Gras in modern tradition.

I’m not sure why I never feel like doing this on the day before Lent. As I was growing up in my small rural town, I had many Catholic friends who would come to school on Ash Wednesday with ash upon their foreheads and complaining about not being allowed to have meat. After school, I would rub dirt on my forehead and wonder if it made a difference if it was not really ashes. When I was in college, I often started Lent with a fast, pulled out my dusty Bible and read a few passages. It was beyond what I usually accomplished on a typical day, so I figured that was a good way to start Lent. On succeeding days, I would give up some kind of food or sweet treat and wondered if God noticed my sacrifice.

But the thing is – – – I hadn’t really noticed His sacrifice.

I often wonder how Rabbi Yeshua spent this day. The day before he stepped out on his last journey in this physical life. Did he go into the wilderness to pray and fast – as He often did before major events – or did he party the night away with his buds before he got down to the way-too-serious part of his mission?

I keep coming up with maybe it was a little of both. A party with the buds and a late night trip into the wilderness with His Father. What do you think?

One of my students interviewed me today via social media for a class she is taking. Many of the question dealt with my life journey and culture we live in at this point in time. It made me think about a question I have been turning around in my head for awhile now. Later I got into a discussion with a couple of family members that brought it forth again. So for the past couple of hours it has been spinning a little faster.

“Am I my brother’s keeper?”~Gen 4:9

“Am I my brother’s keeper?” In Jewish traditions – no Bible story stands on its own. Each story – made up of hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of Hebrew letters and jots and titles brings more than a single story in a historical narrative (600,000 in the Torah alone). In true Jewish tradition, God slowly answers it with story upon story upon story. Taking us deeper into His wisdom and personality with each answer. If He had answered Cain on that tragic day with the story of a Son who gives his life for his brother, would Cain have understood? Would I have understood? Do I understand even now after a 65 year journey?

Our journeys are designed to lead us to find the answer to our own questions that we want to ask of Our Father. Are we our brother’s keeper? Why does this happen to me? Why is there disease – murders – hate????

The list goes on and on. I guess that is what Shrove Tuesday is to me. It is the beginning of a new journey. A series of questions, questing and testing. A party of best buds. A war room with lists of others needs and pains on the wall. A journey into the wilderness with my Father. A time to open my Bible (which BTW is no longer dusty … well except for the saw and wall dust that swirls around everyday) . A gathering of my talents. A bowl to polish as I kneel before my God in awe.

“Am I my brother’s keeper?” Joseph, Miriam, Moses, Ruth, Naomi, David, Apostles, Saints, George Washington, Charles Drew, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa……… A very few of the imperfect people who have tried to answer that question in the same way that the perfect Rabbi Yeshua modeled for them.

“Am I?” I continue to pray on this Shrove Tuesday and begin the journey once again. “Am I?”

“Shrove Tuesday Prayer”

God of feasting,
we give you thanks
for the richness of life.
As Jesus turned water
into wine at Cana,
we think of your desire for
all your people to celebrate life.
Bless us as we celebrate the joy
of being your people.
Send your Spirit to dance
and sing with us.
As we enter the Season of Lent,
may it, too, be a celebration of life:
of an inward journey of contemplation and wondering,
of learning and exploring.
And in all of this,
may we grow closer to Jesus,
to one another, and to you.
We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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