lenten wreck

by Zach Kincaid
Walking toward Jerusalem is never easy. The 40 days stretch out - baptized by Noah, enveloped in God's cloud with Moses, set running with gospel feet for Joshua and Caleb, inside the call for repentance as whaled-up Jonah pleads for Nineveh, and the alpha and omega of Jesus' earthly beat. The 40 days smother hope under the ashes of human frailty and the palms of last year's restless plight to award kingship where it belongs... only to realize we've fashioned the meaning in our own hands. We domesticate Jesus to be like us and to like us. But our projections need Lent to end our attempts.

Peter responds to Jesus' question of "Who am I" with "Messiah," but it didn't get past the profession. In the verses that follow Jesus must rebuke Peter, for Satan creeps between the revelation and the practice, a distance only saved through the death and resurrection some weeks later - once that fiery pit of Peter's denial is heavy with ash and Jesus is rotting off wood.

Just because God came in the flesh doesn't mean we know how God moves altogether. We have him pulled down into gravity but he easily defies it to return to somewhere. Which brings up domestication again... "Why are you looking up," says the angel. "Because that's not supposed to happen nor be possible to happen," we respond.

And we're back to ground zero, caught between the lost and the found, hoping beyond rationality. Lent.

For me, Lent is close to wreckage. This year is no different. A few weeks ago I was walking to a meeting, crossing the street inside a pedestrian walk. I've crossed that road and successfully met the other side a thousand times before.

Not that day.

In an effort to beat the light, a Lincoln Town Car turned into me. Like death, I never saw it coming... this massive heap of machinery run amuck. The car struck me in the heart with its passenger side mirror. (Objects were indeed closer.) The impact twirled me and sent me plummeting to the ground, head first. My shoulder bore the brunt as I learned after an ambulance ride to the hospital, neck secured for a perpetual gaze up, hours long. (Hospitals really need to work on ceiling art.)

My collarbone splintered. After two days of wait, wait, don't tell me hell (and ever smaller holding rooms), a surgery anchored the bones together via a metal plate attached with eight screws.

Now with a wave like the gentleman formerly known as "presidential candidate," I enter Lent a wreck. Beside my bum shoulder, I have lazy fasts like the giving up of caffeine (this year's) or the silent drives in the car (last year's). Stupid pounds of flesh given to a God that wants more than addictions or noise or even collarbone surrenders. Sing with David's wailing after he was caught.

Create in me a clean heart, Oh God.
And renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence, Oh Lord.
And take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation.
And renew a right spirit within me.

May the flood, the glow, the faith, the repentance, the temptation, and the journey home be Lent this year.

Next year in Jerusalem!