No doubt like you, I have a couple of friends who insist on forwarding all kinds stuff they think are cute or humorous. I got one this morning including a citation from Peanuts saying something like, “If it’s raining, learn to dance in the rain.” Yesterday and today have been like that with storming seas, high gusty winds and occasional fits of sunshine. It has not stopped our morning walks along a rocky trail above cliffs being pounded by the North Pacific. It’s not the same as similar trails on, say, the Oregon coast. The same waves with the same violence crash high on the rocks and sometimes overwhelm the land behind, but there is a certain comfort in knowing that an entire continent is backing you up. Here there is a certain awesome wonder that a small group of islands over two thousand miles from any continent can exist at all.
Ordinarily that would give me fodder for an Ash Wednesday meditation, but this morning I got an e-mail from a friend who spent yesterday in Honolulu waiting with his partner to testify in favor of pending civil union legislation. He wrote that he has never experienced such blatant hatred, abuse and physical assault (requiring police intervention) from anyone, much less the crowd of rabidly anti-gay protesters. These protesters were not the nut gang from Topeka. They were so-called Christians from local churches whose presence and behavior had been well organized by their pastors.
As I prepare to attend Ash Wednesday services this evening I will have my own struggle with some of the prayers such as these in our Litany of Penitence:
“Accept our repentance, Lord, for the wrongs we have done; for our blindness to human need and suffering, and our indifference to injustice and cruelty.”
“Accept our repentance, Lord, for all false judgments, for uncharitable thoughts toward our neighbors, and for our prejudice and contempt toward those who differ from us.”
I will be deeply conflicted as I approach the altar rail to receive my ashes. I will be filled with the anger of Peter, the doubts of Thomas and the confusion of Nicodemus, but I will go nevertheless in the sure and certain hope that in whatever state I approach him, Christ will be there to calm me, guide my hand to touch him and reveal to me yet more about what is true and good. Maybe I will learn something about dancing in the rain.