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The Lord has mercy

by davesandel on February 22nd, 2012

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ash Wednesday

Joel 2:12

Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart.

There is no “now” in which I will encounter God with his arms folded, hands closed, his face hard and angry, turned away.  “Even now,” he implies here and states explicitly in many places, I will be your God.  I love you.

God is trustworthy.  “Nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  I am safe here, no matter how it seems.  As Max Ehrmann wrote in his beautiful prose poem, Desiderata, “No doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”*

I read recently that the word “enjoy” was coined by Julian of Norwich, the first woman who wrote and was published in English (1390’s).  But she used it in a different way than I usually do.  What she was trying to explain was the result within her of experiencing God’s love.  She was filled with joy as God’s love enveloped her, and she was en-joyed.

With ashes on my forehead, with fasting in my mind, with a desire to sacrifice uppermost during the next forty days, I also remember God’s rejoinder, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”  For me that means giving myself away however I can, submitting to authority when I disagree with it, finding the 10% I agree with in another’s ideology or opinions and focusing on that, becoming free from resentment by replacing it with forgiveness.  God’s love en-joys us all, when we let it.  And we are free every day to pass it on.

I fail at these things often.  But … even now … I can choose to try again.  Love never fails.  God has his arms wide open.

Receive my efforts and my intentions, Lord, however incomplete they may be.  Forgive my indifference to you, myself and others.  Your goodness endures forever.  Thank you.


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