Ash Wednesday, March 5, 2014


The Blessing of Discomfort              




There is a Franciscan blessing that begins like this: May God bless us with discomfort.


"May God bless us with discomfort -

              at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships,

                                     so that we may live deeply and from the heart." 


In this Ash Wednesday scripture, the prophet Isaiah invites the people into the blessing of discomfort.  The people have come before God feeling justified, and vindicated, and comfortable.  After all, they are fasting.  With sackcloth.  And ashes.  But Isaiah blesses them with discomfort, saying: "Do you really think this is all that God wants for you?  No, God wants so much more.  God wants justice, and freedom, and food and shelter, for you and for the poor.  God wants you to live deeply and from the heart."


So too, the season of Lent blesses us with discomfort.  It is called a penitential season, which means that it asks us to look with clear eyes at the truth of who we are in relation to who God is, to call it plain, and then to change - our minds, our lives, our world.  Lent blesses us with questions like this:


  • Is there an easy answer in our lives that just isn't working for us anymore? 
  • Is there a half-truth that we have been living because the full truth feels too difficult to live out? Someplace where we are stopping just short of vulnerability and authenticity?
  • Is there a superficial relationship that needs to go deeper? Our relationship with family members? Our relationship with those with whom we disagree? Our relationship with colleagues? Our relationship with the poor? 

As we stand on this threshold of Lent, it is as if the Christ stands with us, and points us to Jerusalem and to the cross, and says, "Let us go together toward resurrection.  It is that way.  Let us go live deeply, and from the heart."


Rev. Scott Clark

SFTS Chaplain and Associate Dean of Student Life