Night fell. It had been a long day. I thought I was ready for the still and the quiet.
Ash Wednesday. The plunging into Lent. My community of believers doesn’t observe Lent. I have a newborn, not even three weeks old. My older son needs to be in bed when services begin at a local house of worship. I am tired. Really tired. The soot from the fronds of last year’s palms never found a temporary home on my forehead this year. Perhaps, instead, I’ll learn to drown in grace.
In the late hours of such a blessed Wednesday, lost in the new and old thoughts swirling in my head, clarity broke through. Surrender. Lent is a lesson in letting go.
Isn’t it always, really, about surrender? Shouldn’t it be?
Second son, cradled in my arms, sweetly suckling. First son, across the hall, gently clutching a beloved bear in safe slumber. Mama, sitting in the dark, alone with my prayers. It’s always in the still and quiet that I am most aware of the battles I’m fighting. My constant, always-there enemy?
What I can’t get back. It is a losing battle.
As is true with the first, so it is also true with the second; time passes too quickly. I can’t confine it with my fences of comfort. Hours old so quickly becomes days old. Days become months. Lumps forming in my throat keep me from willingly acknowledging what months become. In a space where the only sound is of husband and sons breathing, the cries that pierce are borne from my heart. I pinch my eyes against the illuminating truth. Why, when truth strikes like lightning, must I stumble around in a season of blindness? Again I hear it. Surrender. The harshness of the consonants clang and echo. Surrender. Surrender. Surrender.
Surrender. It hurts. It humbles. It harrows.
Surrender? I don’t want to.
How does any mother do it? How did she do it? She, the one who carried Him–carried advent–within her. She, the one for whom the Lenten season lingered for 33 years. She, the one who watched, from both painfully near and far, as He put on flesh to dwell with us, and die before us, so that the Father would also raise us. She, a mother who surrendered. And so must I.
Lent. Letting go because He never lets go.
My heart, made white by the crimson that stained Calvary, is my flag of surrender. Only Christ can take the filthy rag-heart within me and make it white. I choose to raise it up again in surrender–a pure flag-heart where His Spirit rushes in to unfurl. How is it that in surrendering my soul soars?
In my brokenness, my failings, my hanging on to what I can’t, I come to this season, drowning in grace.