Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

Empty Yourself This Lent

lenten cross.jpeg
For me Lent is about emptying–a glass, a basket, a soul–so that it can be filled up again…with wine (or sparkling cider), peeps (think Easter basket), and hope. The forty days before Easter is one big humbling exercise–where you remind yourself that without God, you’re nothing but a pile of cinders.

“Don’t kid yourselves, guys,” this liturgical season says. “Everything you have become and anything you have accomplished (i.e. your resume) is courtesy of the dude upstairs.”


Wearing ashes on your forehead is supposed to have the same effect as, say, an author showing up to her book signing at Borders expecting millions of fans, only to see two people–her 85-year-old running partner and his wife–in the forty chairs set up for the event.

This holy Wednesday is about remembering the beauty of “the nothing,” as St. John of the Cross describes in his poem “Nada”:

So as to taste the best
learn to taste of nothing

So as to own all
let go of everything

So as to become who you are
walk away from yourself

So as to become wise
forget all you ever knew

So as to arrive at where you are not
you must walk the path of a nobody

  • Fieldfleur

    Love the poem and the sentiment. So true. Thanks for a thoughtful post!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Bill

    I had never seen this poem before. I loved it. I would have loved to have had it a couple of weeks ago when I preached on “Finding Christ in the nothing.” Do you have a source for this poem?

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment cb

    I’m not catholic and so I don’t observe Lent, that said, I’m going to stray off topic for a minute. This time of year (Spring) brings heightened mania with it. Each year at this time I can count on my mania just about to shoot through the roof. I do wonder what God had in mind by allowing bipolarity to be a part of the human condition. Easter is a mixed bag of sorrow and elation…

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Debbie

    Hi Therese, I just finished reading your blog regarding Lent. Darn, that is exactly what I am seeing this year. Three years a go my son overdosed on drugs and died. I can’t find the words to even attempt to explain the anguish I felt. We were very close, i.e. soul mates. I walked around in a fog for the first year, went back to AA the second year, and I now meet with a nun who is also my friend and mentor. I asked her “sister, please tell me how you think Mary felt those last three days. Her answer (AT LAST) lead me to find the peace I knew that I was very close to having found, but I got stuck. I cried but the difference this time was that my tears were for the Holy Mother. How she must have felt as she watched her son spat upon and kicked, all along being called those horrible names. I thank you because I know what a wonder you are to people like me….I suffer from clinical depression. And I know you understand what I went through. xoxoxo

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Jean

    Excellent post! I think, like an earlier poster mentioned, that my mania is on an upward swing at this time of year, not to mention my obsessiveness….
    Really do need to retreat into prayer for awhile….

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment MARY

    I don’t know if I can be considered a depressed person or not. I feel nervous, afraid, lonely and can’t concentrate as well as I used to. I have started binging again after years of keeping off 100lbs. I gained back about 20 and so far cannot get a grip on things. How do I know what is wrong with me? I have no thoughts of suicide but also have no zest for life.

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