By Andrea Lingle
Then he said, "Let me go, for the day is breaking."
But Jacob said, "I will not let you go, unless you bless me."
This is week five. We are more than half way through our Lenten Journey, and I am hearing the rustling of plans.
Are you coming here for Easter? What should we eat? Do the kids have new outfits? Shoes? Easter baskets?
Easter isn't here yet, but it is close enough to be nudging its way in.
What will the choir sing? Will there be a special offering? Will we be able to find a parking space?
But I'm not ready for Easter. I'm not done with Lent yet. Lent is a sacred space. Lent is a refusal to be lured ahead to what will be. It is sitting with what is happening in discomfort. Ashes and fasting were never meant to be the greening meadow, sown over with wildflowers. These are the chilly winds of a slow breaking spring. When we submitted to the mark of the ashes and stepped onto the Lenten road, we knew it was a long one. We knew, in fact, that it would take everything.
Or, perhaps, a bit of forgetfulness is creeping in. We started strong, but the fast we chose has feels forced, even assumed. Comfort is creeping in and whispering in our ear that seven weeks will never make a difference. Nothing will change.
Genesis 32 tells the story of how Jacob insists that the Divine with with he wrestles bless him.
There, in the loosening darkness, he sensed that the other was pulling away. The weight with which he had striven seemed to shift away, to step back, to unclench. It was as if he had been grappling with the night itself, and now, as dawn began to approach, the strugglers were nudged apart. He panted, forearms resting on the arms of the other, hands gripping the other's shoulders, back relaxed. Head down. Sweat dripping onto the churned up earth.
Jacob was always one to ask for just a little more. The older son's blessing. The younger daughter's hand. And now, he asked for another blessing.
Jesus was asked what the greatest mandate on our lives was. His reply was simple: love. Love the Lord your God, and love your neighbor as yourself. And what does it mean to love? To love is to insist. To refuse to let go. To demand one more moment. To grapple into the dawn and beyond the dawn with that which would rather stay in the safety of night. To pull our lover into the glaring grit of day.
Do I long for the end of this road? Perhaps. Does that with which I strive long to go? Undoubtedly. But, I say to you Lent, wrestling, dis-comfort, I will not let you go until you and I are done here. Until you and I have broken each other; until we lie, pressed flat and spent; until we bless each other.