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One of my favorite poems,
whose author is not known, goes like this
(Slightly paraphrased):

The sacred pearl.. has been bitten, priced,
and strung around blasphemous necks;
andthe Tree at the center of the Earth
under which Buddha sat and on which Jesus hung,
has been cut into beams
for the ceiling of the games room…
and human beings…
have become producers and consumers…
so the Eucharistic world
is ground down to mere bread
and a wine
that refuses its mission of blood.

Lent is a season
in which we aim to restore the sacredness
of the ordinary world,
which has been robbed of its holiness.

Of course, we cannot really rob the world
of holiness
because God owns the sacred
and it can’t be stolen.

But we can, and do, turn ourselves
into producers and consumers of life
rather than the co-creators
we were made to be.

Assuming we truly were created in the image of God,
we must also be full of the presence of God.
It is worth remembering on a day like today
that our creation story in Genesis
says that we were created by God
and then God declared that we are good.
Unlike Augustine, I am more inclined to
side with those that say we are not
innately damaged or congenitally evil –
sin-sick or ruined
by some mythical act of Adam.

Rather, we are precious
in our imperfection,
and beautiful in our weakness,
even splendid
in our strung-out limitations.

Even so, we constantly lose sight
of who we are
and whose we are,
and as a result, we are willingly seduced
into becoming primarily producers and consumers
instead of co-creators.

As producers and consumers
we suddenly view the people around us
as utilities –
objects who can satisfy our need
or extend our influence.

As producers and consumers
we eventually view all manner of    natural resource
as an object for our use –
merely a source of food and shelter
for our comfort.

As producers and consumers,
we eventually come to view
our work and the labor of our lives
as primarily an opportunity
to make money
rather than enhance the life of the creation.

As producers and consumers
we view God as a distant target of prayers
shot glibly out into the universe
like radio waves
seeking other life in the cosmos.

What we miss when blinded
by our producing and consuming lens,
is that other creatures,
the earth, even our work, is sacred –
all of it imbued with God
and reflecting the holy.

Everything we see,
and come to know,
could be revealing of the holy.
Creation itself
is sacramental,
we are sacraments: you and I
are outward and visible signs
of God’s ordinary presence.

But as producers and consumers
we suck the sacred out of life
like milkshake up a straw.
We finish and hardly notice.
This is our disease,
whatever we want to call it,
and Lent is an opportunity
we create for ourselves to get well
and find a little healing.

Lent is a time we set aside
simply to remind ourselves
of God’s presence,
and to recognize
the spiritual calluses and cataracts
we built up over the last year.

Getting well
does not require a spiritual transplant,
transfusion, or even surgery –
there is nothing wrong with us
in any constitutional sense.

We are, after all, a beautiful creation
made in the image of God.
We simply need to re-orient ourselves.

Fasting and giving up chocolate is fine –
it reminds us
that we have become too attached
to some things.

A new diet of prayer, meditation,
or contemplation is nice,
it reminds us
to be centered in the moment with God.

Spiritual direction, therapy, or confession can help,
they remind us
that repentance requires rigorous self-honesty
and willful intention, and
in the end, grace.

There are any number of resources
we have in our bag of tricks
but none of them are sacrosanct –
they are merely tools
that help us remember
who we are and whose we are.

The particular tool is not so important
but the initial act of making the time and space
to intentionally replace our lens is essential.

The very act of keeping a season of Lent,
of using it to lift our head and heart
above the flooding waters of the economy
is essential for remembering
that where our treasure is,
there will our hearts be also.