I’m back among the living after a week down with the flu. Not a 24 hour flu bug type thing: actual influenza. Think sharp knives stabbing your chest every time you cough (which is, let’s just say, often) chills, all-over body aches and general awfulness. And then my husband and one of the kids got it, and well… all downhill from there.
But like I said–I’m back among the living today, newly aware of the fragile state of life embodied. It doesn’t take much to lay us flat. And at all times–even when we’re healthy–we live within the limits of the human frame. We can’t fly (which I’ve always thought was a bum deal); we can’t heal ourselves, or others, in the way that we wish; we cannot be in more than one place at once (also a bum deal); we can’t change time, or alter the weather, or say and do that just-right thing to save the world and absorb all the suffering, ever. We are at the mercy of our body’s needs for shelter, food, drink, and oxygen.
This is the gift and the burden of life as we know it. We catch glimpses of some transcendent Spirit sort of thing, of God’s aching desire for humanity: in art; in music; in liturgy; in nature; and in the depth of human relationship. It’s almost there. We can almost see, touch, taste, and bring it into being. But so not quite. We are yet embodied.
So…Lent! A season to be about the work of catching those glimpses; denying some of the bodily demands that keep us firmly rooted to the earth, and freeing up some space for those Spirit things to live and breathe.
I’m doing a sermon series called”Rise: More than Bread Alone.”It’s inspired by Jesus telling the temptor that “one cannot live by bread alone.” Because–and here’s the good news–we are more than this body that holds us down sometimes, more than its pain, more than its needs and desires… And, as long as we are so embodied, we need more than just physical sustenance to do the work of the gospel. Throughout this series, Jesus will meet strangers on the road, giving them–and us!–the kinds of things we DO need, more than bread. Things like compassion, imagination, courage, and community.
That’s the trip we’re on, in this season of the soul. Together, we follow Jesus. We lay some stuff down. And we pick up what we need to sustain us for the work of discipleship, and compel us towards new life in the Spirit. Know what we need for that trip? A playlist. Here it is:
Souls Like Wheels, The Avett Brothers
Vapor, The Liturgists
Step Out, Jose Gonzales
In My Time of Dying, Led Zeppelin
Shake it Out, Florence and the Machine (I know, I know, this is on my list every year. But every year, it is the perfect soundtrack for all this darkness and hope).
I Shall Be Released, The Band
Dirty Feet, Dear Saint Isaac (I’d never heard of these guys til a friend told me about them the other day, and holy smokes, they are amazing.)
Let it Go, Idina Menzel/Queen Elsa –Yes, I’m sick of it, too. But yes, I’m totally serious. Maybe every little girl in America is onto something. But, if the Disney-ness of it all is still a bit too much for you, watch the GMA Frozen Sing Along version. Pure joy. Let the storm rage on, y’all.
Roll up into Jerusalem playing some Beautiful Things, (Gungor), and shake the last of winter, of sickness, of the baser impulses from your frozen frame. God is doing a new thing.
Who says we can’t fly?