On the Thursday after Ash Wednesday 2012 I was in an Intensive Care Unit at the Saint Augustine hospital in Durban. I waited for test results that would determine whether I would need another heart surgery. It was like being in a wilderness of sorts.
Earlier in the day Lollie and I arrived in Durban to celebrate our fourteenth wedding anniversary. After lunch I felt dizzy and we rushed to the hospital where an EKG confirmed that something was happening with my heart, and that it was abnormal. Four hours later I was transferred by ambulance to the Saint Augustine hospital where a cardiologist would do an angiogram on my heart.
Lent is a season for examination. It is a time wherein followers of Jesus examine our lives for those aspects of our lives that block our relationships with God, people, the environment and our various communities.
Lent is an angiogram of sorts.
An angiogram is a procedure to see which blockages may be in the coronary arteries. During the procedure a dye is injected into the veins and this shows up on an x-ray. During my angiogram I could see my heart pumping on two high definition screens. Each time the dye is injected it causes a warm and painful sensation. It then shows the flow in the heart. Thankfully there were no new blockages in my coronary arteries.
The angiogram is a metaphor for the season of Lent. The season consists of injecting dye into your system to see where the blockages might be. Some use the dyes of fasting, confession and almsgiving.
As I laid in the ICU for two days I battled through the first few days of my Lenten angiogram. My most surprising discovery was that I somehow still work with images of God that are destructive. One of these images showed itself in the thought, “I wonder what I did wrong and why God is punishing me”. This destructive image of God was one I thought I have laid down a long time ago. My Lenten angiogram showed something else. I somehow still hold on to the thought that God loves me when I do good and punishes me when I don’t. This is one of the blockages I am facing during this Lent time.
It is a good reminder for me that Lent is built on the foundation of God’s love. That there is nothing I can do to make God love me more. Lent is not a way to try to appease God, or to earn God’s love. Lent is a time to remove those blockages that blind me to the fact that I am already loved. Even though angiograms are painful, we need them. But they only show the blockages that prevent us from Life. May we celebrate God’s immense love during this Lenten season.