Ash Wednesday 6 March

1James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,

To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion:

Greetings.

2 My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, 3because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; 4and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.

The life of faith is a journey. I am not today the person I was ten years ago. Even over the past five years, there have been tectonic shifts in the psychic plates of my interior life. I have moved, learned, and grown. I would like to hope that I have become more “mature and complete,” although it is often difficult to see myself as a person who is “lacking in nothing.”

The “Letter of James” was written to displaced people, “the twelve tries in the Dispersion.” In many ways, I am a “displaced person.” It is not that I have been forced from my ancestral home or deprived of my heritage. But, I know what it feels like to experience myself as a person who does not fit. I have lived a lifetime of struggling with being, or feeling like, an outsider. I have dwelt on the uneasy edges. At times it is a painful place to be. And, like most people, I am not a fan of pain.

James holds out the possibility that pain perhaps is not a foe but a friend. Pain, James suggests, is an ally in the journey to growth and maturity. It produces “hü-po-mo-nā’”, possibly “endurance” but more likely, “patience.”

 

Patience is simply the ability to be with what is. I know that when I am willing to be with what is, without rushing to change it, fix it, or manufacture some alternate reality more to my liking, I find myself in a better place to make truly life-giving choices.

 

This Lent perhaps I might seek to surrender my need to avoid pain, and allow the slow flower of patience to bloom in its place.