Lent 5 A 2014

Coming Home after Conflict Out of the depths have I called to you O Lord!

"o# that #e are poised on the cusp of Holy $ee% a&out to commit ourselves and our souls to the great mystery of our tradition it is #orth as%ing ourselves #hat our #aiting and preparation for these last #ee%s of Lent has meant to us! It is unli%e the #aiting #e are accustomed to the #aiting of the everyday for the visits and appointments #ith #hich #e mar% time! $e have em&ar%ed on a %ind of holy #aiting a sacred preparation one that transforms us if #e allo# it the opportunity on this the eve of our great homecoming! 'o #ait in this #ay is hard to give (od the chance to let us spea% out of the depths of ourselves) it is much easier to fill the air #ith #hat is easy and #hat costs us little! 'he theologian *aul 'illich calls us hit+and+run drivers #ith the speed #e travel on the surface of our lives in,uring our souls as #e move eventually rushing a#ay leaving those souls to &leed! $e accept #ho #e are as #e seem to ourselves until the great events of our lives and our faith sha%e our #orld and cause us to loo% into the depths of our o#n hearts! -tanding no# at the gates of .erusalem #e have #aited for #ee%s to see ho# this story #ill end for each of us ho# the reading and the prayer have changed us! $e have #aited li%e /ary and /artha at the tom& of La0arus for our #orlds to change for the assurance that death does not have the last #ord #ith us! 'hat is the promise to#ard #hich #e have &een moving on our o#n ,ourneys home! 1ut it is the living (od the one #ho loves us and #ho lives deep #ithin us that pulls us out of the cave #here #e have &een lying and tells us to ta%e off our &andages and to live not on the details of our lives that &ut out of the prayer and suffering and %no#ledge that #e are #ith the one #ho gives us the only value that our lives have Our companion this Lent has &een *rivate .ohn 1artle from 2evin *o#ers3 The Yellow Birds #hose o#n soul has &een &leeding from the events of the conflict he has &een fighting in Ira4 and the struggle to give them meaning on his return home! 5ven on the airplane the image of home is a difficult one! 'he desert #as 6#here it seemed I had left the &etter portion of myself as one among innumera&le grains of sand7 he says! His frayed relationship #ith his mother his isolation from his friends are his o#n tom& #here he says he is 6afraid of nothing in the #orld more than having to sho# myself for #hat I had &ecome7! Ironically it is his o#n incarceration that allo#s him an opportunity to live to ta%e a#ay the stone that separates him from the #orld) time allo#s him to 6feel ordinary again7 #here the smell of the 'igris is 6replaced &y the cold clear air coming do#n the mountainside7! Li%e La0arus 1artle is raised &ut it is to a different life than he had %no#n one transformed &y memory and the 4uestions that his long time alone have as%ed of him! It is out of the depth of our 4uestions and the deli&erate time it ta%es to respond to them that #e all are a&le to live) it is #here #e discover ho# deep our o#n faith is #hat our o#n homecoming means! $hen .esus tells /ary that those #ho &elieve in him though they die #ill live and those #ho &elieve in him #ill never die he as%s her 68o you &elieve this97 It is a 4uestion that .esus as%s all of us a 4uestion that he #ill as% again and again throughout Holy $ee% and it is something #e #ill have to reach deep inside ourselves to ans#er! If #e listen closely #e can hear the pause the catch in /ary3s throat &efore she tells him that she %no#s he is the /essiah the one coming into the #orld! If #e are honest #e too have to #ait to avoid ans#ering too gli&ly or too 4uic%ly! It is a 4uestion that #ill have to #or% on each of us on all of us &ecause #e are all in this together! 'illich calls this #aiting hope &ecause it is hope that unites us #ith the prophets) it is out of #aiting he says that trem&ling and contrite hearts receive the strength of hope and truth! Coming home means something different for each of us! :or *rivate /urphy it is a release from the soul+searing violence that meets him each day! 6 He #anted to choose!

He #anted to #ant 7 says 1artle) 6He #anted to have one memory he3d made of his o#n volition to &alance out the shattered remnants of everything he hadn3t as%ed for7! In our terms it is ,oy the desire for desire a place of #holeness #here happiness and grief can co+e;ist! It is #hen that vision is destroyed &y a mortar shell that /urphy3s o#n #orld &egins to come apart #here the randomness of violence li%e the chal% mar%s on the #all of 1artle3s prison cell as% the 4uestion of #hether the dried &ones of the dead can live! 1ut through the lens of time and memory 1artle ends his account #ith an elegiac vision of /urphy3s &ody floating do#n the 'igris 6his disfigurement transformed into a statement on permanence7 even as his &ones drift apart! In this parado; is a vision of hope that only time can provide #here even the deepest grief can &e redeemed! And #e too are coming home! All homecomings are difficult especially ones accompanied &y the pain #e have felt and #itnessed this season) li%e 1artle #e are returning different people from #hen #e &egan! 1ut in the rough+and+tum&le of our lives grief and ,oy are al#ays present and #e simply have to open our hearts to them as #e #ill in earnest &eginning ne;t -unday! It is #orth the #ait &ecause the moment in #hich #e reach the last depth of our lives the time #e remem&er #ith someone #ho has shared our ,ourney is the truth on #hich death and life and faith are &uilt! Holy $ee% #ill remind us of this &ut it is out of our o#n depth that #e #ill recogni0e it &oth the #ait that pulls us apart and the ,oy at its end!