Yesterday I mentioned that the demons were all coming out to play. Failures and fears, they have a way of creeping back in whenever you contemplate embarking on a new path.
And then, this morning, the first Sunday of Lent, we heard the story of The Garden: Adam, Eve, the Serpent, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
It's all about the loss of innocence, isn't it -- on so many levels. We thought life would be one way, and then the knowledge comes, and it's something altogether different. And yet, knowing what we know, part of us still longs to get back to the garden, to return to the time when things were simpler, when we believed we could make a difference, when we didn't feel so exposed.
Do you suppose that's why people cry at weddings? The bride and groom go in with all that hope, and those of us who watch know things are so much more complicated than that.
My husband talks about that with his job, remembering sadly the naive enthusiasm with which he entered the computing field -- where he now spends much of his time responding to criminal misuses of computer code.
Can there be such a thing as wise enthusiasm? Or skeptical enthusiasm?
I think that's where faith comes in. Knowing what we know: that the world isn't perfect, that life is not always fair, that human relationships and emotions are unbelievably complex, that the "best laid plans of mice and men" may often go awry, do we take the risk, the leap of faith? Do we dare to believe anyway?
Do we attend church knowing its leaders, like us, are often flawed? Do we vote for an idealistic candidate even though we fear he will be crucified for his convictions? Do we risk telling the truth, believing that openness is the only way to community and healing, even though we understand that someone may twist it to their own advantage?
What will we do with the baggage, the knowledge that came with the burning pain of past losses? Do we go back and try again, in hopes of being wiser? Or do we give up completely the hope that fueled our earlier attempts to make a difference?
Lent is our time to dance with those old demons, to engage with them, to imagine a quick two-step, give them a hug and a twirl, see if they still have power over us; to see if maybe we can dance together, or if we're even interested in getting back into the swing of things. I mean, heck, you know they're out there on the dance floor, waiting to swoop in. Does that mean you'll spend the rest of your life on the sidelines?
I hope not. Because that music is pretty catchy...