“A monk came to Abba Sisoes and said:
‘what would I do, Abba, for I have fallen from grace?’
And he replied, ‘Get up again.’
The monk came back shortly after and said:
‘What shall I do now, for I have fallen again?’
And the old man said to him, ‘Just get up again. Never cease getting back up again!'”
-Sayings of the Elders, The Book of Mystical Chapters
There is something to be said for trying, but in our culture, there are often many more words for how we fail and seem to keep failing.
Instead of words of encouragement, of get back up again,
we often push each other deeper into shame, deeper into the ditch, where it’s that much harder to get out again.
Maybe if Lent is about looking ahead to the celebration of Christ’s body and blood,
we should be practicing how to share those kinds of body and blood words, words of life and of getting back up again, of trying and trying and trying because we know that we are in it together and there are always good things coming.
At the deacon retreat I attended this weekend, a few of us sat around a table and talked about “the mystery of faith” and what that’s really supposed to mean for us.
And we all looked at each other and said, “Well, this. This is the mystery, that we are even here, that we belong to each other, that we belong to God.”
If our failures belong to God, so does our trying.
If our weakness belongs to God, so does our strength.
If our bodies belong to God, so do our spirits,
and spirits are made for such big, big mysteries.
We are capable, so much more capable than we give ourselves or each other credit for.
So for this fourth day of Lent, find someone who is stronger than they think they are,
and tell them.
Find someone who is down and help them get back up again,
or look at your own face in the mirror and say the same.
And if we repeat the words of good-tidings and of building-up, we
inch closer and closer to the meaning of this Lenten season,
closer and closer to the true identity of ourselves and the church,
closer and closer to the good news of salvation.
Hallelujah and amen.