These thoughts on Lent are from Pastor Rebecca Ebb-Speese, chaplain at MapleCreek in Grand Rapids.
I have been pondering what I should be giving up for Lent this year. A given is always sugar. But this year I have had an awakening that Lent is for receiving, which requires giving up the need for fierce independence.
I started Lent this year by having knee surgery. This has given me the gift of a little over two weeks off work. I looked forward to this time of rest and reflection at the beginning of Lent.
Now, a few days into my leave, I have had to experience a lot of giving up: of independence, of driving, of cooking my own meals (that’s a gift in its own right!), of caring for the household chores. I have given up most of these to my husband, who is willing to give of his time to take over.
When I was in the recovery room, the surgeon came in to tell me how the surgery went. I was quite surprised to hear him say that I had donor parts in my knee. At first, I thought it was kind of creepy to realize I had a dead person’s ligaments and cartilage in my body. I didn’t even realize that donor parts were used for knee repair. When I think of organ donors, I think of the big ones, like the heart, lung and liver. It never occurred to me that that what seem like small, insignificant body parts are also used. And I never imagined myself being a recipient. Wow! Someone’s death gave me new parts in my knee so that I can experience healing. That sure sounds like Lent to me. Someone else gave his whole life so that we can have new life!
Lent is about receiving. It’s about receiving the sacrifice of life that Jesus gave to us. It’s about receiving grace and forgiveness. It’s about letting go of our need to be gods in charge of our own lives as we let God guide us and the Holy Spirit open us up to receive wonderful gifts.
I am also learning that Lent is about letting others care for me. I am a professional caregiver. It’s hard for me to be on the receiving end. Most people want to be able to give and care. It’s a gift for them to receive. I am thankful for the gift of my donor’s knee parts, for the gifts of prayers and cards, for meals and flowers, for calls and visits and for the many other ways people are reaching out. I am humbled. As the weeks progress, I will be more and more opened to learn to receive with thankfulness, especially to Jesus for his life-giving gift of going to the cross, which led, ultimately, to his resurrection!
(Photo by Enygmatic-Halycon, Creative Commons)