If I had my life to live over again, I would ask that not a thing be changed,
but that my eyes be opened wider. ~ Jules Renard
"I'm not paying much attention to it, I think. . .sort of just carrying this thing about Daniel, and wondering what's going to happen," I told her. "Writing a lot. Oh, and I just committed to being part of the leadership team for spiritual renewal in the parish. Wondering what I've done!"
It's not true that I'm not paying attention to Lent. It's more like I'm not paying attention to Lent in a focused, traditional way. I'm eating chocolate. I'm not consciously putting specific disciplines into practice, so much as letting things happen, and experiencing Lent as it comes--whatever form it takes.
And when the Jules Renard quote (above) grabbed my attention the other day, I began to ponder the idea of living my present experiences with my eyes opened wider, and how that might effectively impact things positively, or differently, at least. (why, oh why, do I have to think so much?)
So, what does that mean exactly--to have your eyes opened?
Once you see, there's no going back. Because once you know what you know, you can't not know it. You're forced to move out of denial and pretense, and take responsibility. I hate that, sometimes. As someone has said, "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. It will make you damned mad first, but it will make you free."
Seeing slows you down and moves you into greater awareness. No more groping around blindly in the dark. No more excuses. "It was dark. I couldn't see." Which creates more options; more choices.
Seeing puts you in touch with things as they truly are. It alters what you see, because it alters the way you see--something that helps you to be inner free.
You also have to drop things that get in the way of seeing, such as shame, blame, and fear, which can get you in a major brain freeze. It's what I tell myself sometimes: Just Stop Being So Afraid. (actually quoting Jesus of Nazareth, there) It will get in the way of just about everything.
Really, Jules? You wouldn't change a thing?
The year I turned fifty, I thought a lot about the Old Testament principle of Jubilee. The Jubilee Year was supposed to be a year of restoration. Slaves went home, and you got your stuff back. Clean Slate. Like with Etch-a-Sketch. Overs. Like with jacks. If you'd put your land or your child or your own life up for collateral, you got back your land or your child or your life. Everything reverted back to its original owner. (Of course, at the heart of this law is the truth that none of us truly owns anything. It's all just on loan, anyway, since it all belongs to God. Not very American-culture-sounding, is it?)
I started wondering, "Why fifty years? What's significant about fifty years?"
And when I reviewed the specifics of my own life, I realized that God Knows that by the time you've lived fifty years, you've got more going on than you're equipped to deal with by yourself.
By the time you've lived fifty years, you have accumulated a pile of blunders, losses, sorrows, offenses, missed opportunities, wounds, broken relationships, disappointments, and failures. You could fill a warehouse. You could fill a block of warehouses.
You also know you've caused a great deal of it, and you can't solve it yourself.
And that's your opportune moment. You simply allow Grace to come in. (as in, "C'mon in, Grace! The door's open!!") Because if you don't let at least a little Grace in, you get rigid and bitter. You get hard to reason with, and hard for other people to be around. (You know people like that. We all do.) And it's Grace that makes forgiveness happen, and helps you to look at everything a whole new way. Grace has a way of opening your eyes wider, which lets you "re-live" your experience differently. Grace gives you your life back.
So Grace is just another way to look at what Jules is saying. . .to live the same experience, only with your eyes opened wider. And doesn't that pretty much change everything?