Early March of every year marks the beginning of the Lenten Season; the forty day period where observers of the holiday prepare for Easter by practicing different kinds of spiritual discipline – like fasting, moderation, and repentance.
Its purpose represents the life of Jesus Christ, not only his sacrifice, but also the symbol of life, death, burial, and resurrection. Although I don’t personally observe this holiday, I have watched my mother go to church year after year to receive ashes on Ash Wednesday and thus begin her own spiritual venture of giving up something she normally takes joy in.
It’s an interesting concept to think about for those who don’t normally partake in religious holidays or spiritual discipline; most people don’t think about their lives in such a way that they would willingly choose to give up or moderate something that gives them pleasure.
But the truth is that a lot of life, whether we realize it or not, is about this cycle of giving and receiving; of life, death, burial, and resurrection.
Life is really all a balancing act. We take the good with the bad, the abundance with the lack, the love with the fear; everything holds its own weight and everything is scaled to its counterpart. Life, self-growth, evolvement…all of this could not exist without the presence of both of what we consider to be the positive and the negative.
Think about your own relationships, specifically romantic relationships. We don’t begin seeing someone or even staying with them because they are the perfect example of what will make us happy, or what will fulfill all of our needs.
We make and continue relationships because despite all of the beautiful, pretty things that attracted us in the first place, we still choose to see past the muck, flaws, and faults; we choose to accept them, to live with them.
The same goes with ourselves; there are parts of our bodies, personalities, and experiences that we absolutely love and are proud of, and there are also the not so wonderful weaknesses, appearances, and choices that lie underneath the surface of it all.
If you think about any area of your life, you will see that each and every day of our lives is like being an acrobat, balancing and weighing the pros and cons, and choosing to live within both realms.
It’s through this acrobatic dance, through sometimes living in the realm of “lack” or “negativity,” that our greatest lessons and revelations about ourselves arise. Pope Francis chose the message for this year’s Lenten season as, “He became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.”
Life’s riches often come from knowing what it’s like to live without them, but sometimes the most valuable riches emerge from seeing perfection despite the imperfections, and seeing past the darkness to find the underlying beams of light.