Dear Fellow Pilgrims,
I used to hate the word repent. It made my skin crawl. Such negativity I thought. It struck me as a throwback to the sin-obsessed Victorian era when the ultimate goal of Christianity was to overcome one’s humanity. I happen to like my humanity. What kind of a twisted god, I thought, would create us to be flawed humans and then expect us to be perfect angels? It struck me as rather cruel.
Rationally, my logic seemed rock solid. This left me boldly, arrogantly and quite ignorantly confident in the notion that the world around me, but certainly not I, needed to change. Spiritually, my logic left a lot to be desired. My struggle with the concept of repentance was rooted in the simple fact that I was approaching it with a narrow mind rather than with a broad heart.
Our brains have been programmed to see things in duality and opposition. If something is A, it cannot be B. What is black cannot be white; what is up cannot be down; what is right cannot be left; and what is human cannot be divine. From this perspective, repentance means overcoming our human nature in order to be more Christ-like. But Jesus, the God-Man, changes this, tossing aside this notion of duality and showing us that it is not only possible to be both human and divine, it is in fact our true nature.
Unlike our brains, our hearts understand this. Thus, opposites attract. My wife and I, for example, have very little in common. She is a woman; I am a man. She is a pragmatist; I am a dreamer. She is a morning person; I am a night person. She is a down-to-earth gardener; I am a head-in-the-clouds philosopher. And yet we love each other with such great energy it is life-giving, life-creating. Even more so, this heartfelt love has unified our opposites. I have grown to love that which is down to earth, and she has grown to love that which is in the clouds.
When it comes from the heart, repentance doesn’t mean change, it means growth. It means discovery. It means letting go of the narrow mind and opening up the broad heart. By releasing ourselves from the false premise of our duality, we are able to enter the true nature of our Holy Oneness. Thus are we able to forgive those who have wronged us and love our enemies. This is why Paul writes that in Christ there is no rich and poor, no man and woman, no slave and free. There is no duality, only the unity we celebrate in Holy Communion.
So join me in joyful repentance this Lent! Join me in living with a broad heart!
Deacon Steve Meyer