There is nothing like a trip to the hospital to remind you of your vulnerability. You move from someone confident and assured to a feeling of weakness and helplessness.
As someone used to walking in and out of hospitals and offering care, it was quite an eye-opener to be on the receiving end.
The hospital gowns make it worse! Who in their right minds invented a gown that you put on backwards with ties that are impossible to close? What’s wrong with Velcro?
A hospital ward is a leveller, reminding you both of your humanity and your morality, that the slick machine that you think you are is not as perfect as you made out.
“Remember you are dust, and to dust you will return.”
It is a kind of Lenten experience.
Jesus, in the wilderness is vulnerable. He is exposed to the elements and susceptible to the temptations of hunger and the wish to pull the strings to use his divine power. He is encouraged to look as far as the eye can see of the kingdoms of the world which could be his if he promises to serve the Devil.
In the 40 days, Jesus, not distracted by other worldly concerns, under-stands even more what it is like to be human. Alone, he has time to think of what is really important and where his mission is leading, ultimately to the cross.
Our reformed tradition is often full of words, words, and more words whilst other denominations understand perhaps more readily the balance between the senses, the mind and the heart.
When they cross themselves, touching their forehead, their breast, their shoulders, they are offering up to God the energy of their minds, the fervour of their hearts and the strength of their hearts. It is a powerful reminder that God loves us body and soul.
Not that I wanted it, but a trip to hospital is a reminder to me of the bigger picture. It is, as the Apostle Paul has often said, ‘when I am weak then I am strong.’ There’s a phrase from Leonard Cohen which plays a daily part of my Lenten journey:
“Forget your perfect offering, there’s a crack in everything… that’s how the light gets in.”
I wonder if that’s true? I wonder if, when we are truly human, imperfect, liable to be wrong, make mistakes, that the light truly gets through and shines?
Lent is not about giving up, it is about giving in, it is about looking inward to who we really are, taking the time away from life’s distractions to understand our needs and to be aware of the temptations that distract us from who we really are.
Lent is a time to be honest with ourselves and if we are truthful, then we can be more honest with God.
This Lenten time, be open, honest and vulnerable, preferably without the hospital appointment and the NHS gown and know that Christ has been there and is at one with our defencelessness.
Are you ready for the exposure?
Your friend and minister,