Blossom in the sun, not the stockade
So the season of Lent is upon those who are followers of Jesus. Meaning “springtime,” the word “Lent” captures the true spirit of the season better than the sometimes foreboding overtones of institutional observances.
Spring is the season when we say that the earth renews itself. The weather warms, the flowers bloom and people tend to be in a brighter mood. This could also describe traditional observances. We dig deep into the soil of our souls, rooting out weeds and planting seeds that we hope will bloom in a better version of ourselves. All of this bursts forth in an outpouring of euphoria at Easter, when we are reminded of how Jesus rose victorious from the tomb. Jesus then declared the future as the age of the Holy Spirit who would come upon his followers in 50 days, before he ascended into heaven. Meanwhile, the apostles were told to watch and pray.
Looming over this whole Lenten process, though, is the threat of eternal damnation if we don’t get with the program. The overarching theme is salvation — where do we end up? It’s like our grade for the semester, it depends how you did on the exam. Mystics throughout the world have concluded there is no hell, because it clashes with the message of revelation (what we think God has told us about himself), which is love.
Let’s look at Lent, then, in the light of love. If we live in the age of the Holy Spirit (or simply Spirit as the shamans say), we can dispense with images of God as a projection of homo sapiens. We are left with an immaterial image, of a “spirit.”
Science has concluded that all matter is energy. With this in mind, I propose what we have described these many centuries with the word “god” is an energy field of love, and this love is unconditional. It cannot be other than true love.
A constructive approach to Lent would be to take the focus off of myself, and my self-improvement, and place it upon the beautiful light and wisdom of love. A flower does not bloom by doing pushups, jogging or beating itself up. It blooms by opening itself to the nutrients of the soil and sun. In the same way, we will see ourselves in the most authentic perspective as flowers opening to the sun of love and being nourished by the presence of Spirit in the very depths of our souls.
The agenda then becomes deepening my relationship with that Spirit and letting Spirit take over in my life. The way to do that is by adopting a regular daily spiritual practice like meditation. This transforms our relationship with this Spirit into one of nonduality. We and Spirit are one.
This strikes me as more becoming to who we really are than the alternative, which calls to mind imagery of a demanding parent and a rebellious teenager. Keep smiling, folks!
Bill O’Brien is a consciousness coach and shamanic practitioner. He and his wife Linda have lived in Shepherdstown since 2005. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.