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I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness,
the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed.
I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—
the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there’s one other thing I remember,
and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:
God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
He’s all I’ve got left.
(The Message Translation)
Today is the first day of Lent, one focused upon penance and repentance. Both are words that are out of fashion, seemingly ancient, old-school vocabulary that don’t resonate with us in todays world. Repentance in Greek is metanoia, meaning to change direction, or course-correct, to turn around in terms of one’s thoughts, actions, relationships, commitment, life direction … in view of going a different way, recognizing that we’ve been mistaken, or mislead, or wandered from the enlightened path we long deeply to follow. It’s less about being bad then about being open and present. It’s more of a daily, renewing, ongoing spiritual practice than a once-in-a-lifetime (and never again) come to Jesus moment.
In today’s reading, the author of Lamentations spends most of his time complaining, both about the world’s afflictions and his own. One thought gives him or her peace: the steadfast love of God. The knowledge of God’s unshakable love, even in the midst of trouble, is finally the grease which makes the squeaky wheel of lamentation fall silent.
Take some oil, Olive works best. Pour a small amount into a bowl or on a plate. After reading the above scripture, as you meditate upon it, dip your finger in the oil. Then smooth it onto the back of your hand. As you do, reflect on the parts of your life which are stiff and squeaky – places where you are stuck, places which give you cause for continual complaint. Consider how the love of God might lubricate these parts of your life, renewing them, making them usable in a way they have not been before.