Journey through Lent 2018 at St. Anthony's
Thursday - Second Week of Lent
March 1, 2018

Thank you for the opportunity to share some of my thoughts on the Lenten readings for today. These readings for today are challenging! The themes that jump out at me the most are about death, grief and struggle. 

The Psalm reading warns us that we need to choose our friends and actions wisely. Psalm 1, verse 1 reminds me to be careful to not sit in the company of "scoffers."  Negativity is all around us and it overwhelms our thinking and moods to our core - so how in this age of constant contact with news can we stay aware of what is happening, yet stay hopeful?  Or, is this an age old problem that isn't connected to media at all? I suppose this issue of scoffing and having a negative outlook wouldn't have made it to the Book of Psalms if the struggle to face the hardships of life wasn't an age old issue.

The Gospel reading in Luke is even more of a challenge. With this story about both a rich person and Lazarus meeting up with Abraham in heaven I am forced to do some thinking about the fact that being a Christian means that I believe that my ticket to the pearly gates is not something I can buy online. This story obligates me to examine my beliefs, behaviors and thought patterns very carefully. Luke warns that "a great chasm is established to prevent anyone from crossing who might wish to go from our side to yours or from your side to ours.."  He is referring to the fact that a wealthy person had been unkind to Lazarus because he was poor and covered in sores. As a result, this rich fellow is having a hard time getting into heaven and kind Lazarus is welcomed with open arms.  It seems that the rich person must, at the very least, do some explaining about selfish and conceited behavior during his life time.

This Gospel story mentions the bosom of Abraham, so I can't help but think of the song "Rock My Soul" and I found a wonderful version by Louis Armstrong to add to my playlist ( click here to listen ).  I'm thankful for something light on the topic of heaven because my heart is very heavy on the topic this year.  Like many others this Lent, I'm dealing with fresh grief. A best friend of mine that I met more than 30 years ago died last spring right after Easter.  One of the ways that I find myself coping with my loss is to over think the theology of heaven.  I want to know in human terms where exactly her soul is right now. What exactly is she up to? Where can she go, what does she feel, how exactly does afterlife work? I feel her closeness on a regular basis, so I know that she is still in my life and is but a memory or prayer away.  Yet - grief is never ending and there is nothing easy about dying, death or grief.

I do appreciate the reminders from these reading that the simple things of life are all that God is asking of me to make it past the pearly gates. A smile to a stranger, being thankful for my groceries, saying a quick prayer, and the more challenging job of trying to shift my attitude to a more positive one are the type of tasks at hand that will be rewarded as I look forward to Easter this year.

Kate Cooper
St. Anthony Parishioner