the end, and the beginning.

i’ve started dating someone.
yes, cyber friends, i have a person, and regardless of the fact that i don’t know quite how to refer to him (i keep calling him my “friend boy,” which always elicits some laughs), i like him.  and he likes me.  quite a lot.

so, at the end of Lent, there is sweet hope of a new beginning.

last night, as i was updating a friend on this matter of my love life, she asked if he was in the same place of faith as me.  she asked with good intention, i know, but i had to laugh as i reflected on this question later.

where exactly am i in my faith?

i am increasingly disillusioned with the way we humans have organized God, and Jesus, and the practices we devote ourselves too, but i am sure that i am sure that i am sure that:

i love God.
i fall more and more in love with Him as He whispers promises of grace and mercy and the opportunity to make my own choices.

i cherish Jesus, this sweet brother of ours who breathed life into me.
i am reminded this especially in the season of Lent, as i allow myself to dwell on the choices He made for me.

i believe in forgiveness.  whole and holy forgiveness, extended to us before we have even the consciousness to ask.

this is one thing i find missing in the Christian tradition.  at least, in my history with the church.  we believe in the context of forgiveness only from the perspective of highly guilty people in desperate need of it.  which usually means we tend to focus more on our guilt than the forgiveness.  we begin the conversation, not by affirming an individual’s beauty and being, but by beating them over the head about their bad decisions.

but who doesn’t feel anxiety with the weight of their guilt?  who doesn’t wake up at night wishing they hadn’t done that or said this?  in other words, our guilt we will always have, so why do we stress it so much as though the dwelling on it might be an appropriate penance?

all the while, there is this beautiful Man-God hanging from a tree, offering forgiveness first, to a rag tag group of people desperately in need.  he whispers forgiveness at every turn, every moment of our lives.  forgiveness of things we weren’t even aware of, forgiveness of things we’ve yet to do.

what if we focused on being forgiven first, and allowed that to shape our thoughts, emotions, convictions about how to move forward?  how humbling to realize there is a God who loves us even when we’re not aware of Him.

i remember walking into a yoga class in December, with the word “forgiveness” on my tongue.  my teacher at the time was very good about asking us to set an intention for the class, something that we focused on for during our practice, usually peace or grace for our bodies.  something of the kind.  my roommate and i were in the midst of issues and i was feeling bound up in irritation and anger so i knew my intention had to be forgiveness.  i needed to forgive her.

as i worked through the moves, taking deep breaths and allowing them to become prayers, a still and steady voice whispered, “you are forgiven with me.”  i felt a burden lift and knew, in that instant, that i must first be forgiven in order to forgive.  funny thing is, i didn’t ask for it, nor did i even know what i was being forgiven for, except that this God of the universe did not find fault with me, and i was suddenly relieved at finding fault with my roommate.

in the end, His life gave us the hope of new beginning.  if we seek, we will find a God who’s already forgiven us.  the hard part is not in the asking for it, but in the ability to truly sit with that humbling truth.  to accept the beauty of a gift so pure.  may this Easter be the beginning of such a journey.

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