By Jamey Cook
This season of Lent is an opportunity to challenge ourselves to rekindle our hearts to see, and be thankful for, all that Christ has done for us. As Fr. David preached on the fourth Sunday of Epiphany, God works through grace, not fairness, which also means that resilience can blossom out of ordinary experience. This year, as happens frequently, my birthday, Valentine’s Day, is also Ash Wednesday. I could call this a “miracle day,” because I was born 3 months prematurely, and only weighed 2 lbs 14 oz. I fought for my life, with God’s help, while in
the NICU for 68 days. When I was discharged home, I was still tiny and vulnerable, and didn’t sleep through the night until I was over a year old.
While hospitalized, the nurses grasped my heels firmly, so they could prick them for blood tests. This had to be done often, and I now have a pattern of distinctive scarring. When I was about 9, doctors discovered my feet were very flat, so every year I obtain custom-fitted supports for them. As I break in a new pair, I remember through the initial discomfort that God has allowed me the ability to walk. While a teenager and young adult, I learned to live with other less visible health annoyances, some of which I only fully understood about five years ago, but even in the toughest of times, I know God is always there.
Every Lent, my feet provide me a tangible reminder of my life’s journey. Ash Wednesday, I humbly approach, knowing that God performed a miracle by saving my life, and that none of us know how long our days will be on this earth. Every Maunday Thursday, I am wowed all
over again, when I place my battered and scarred feet into the basin to be washed with life-giving water, and remember the institution of the Eucharist, a meal with which all Christians are fed. Flaws and all, Christ extends His radical hospitality to us. I am reminded that Christ, our victorious king in the fight, gave His all that we might live.
Lent reminds us that Jesus was tempted as we are, yet without sin. We may never fully grasp in this life the meaning of being baptized with Him in His death, and raised with Him in glory, yet every year, we are given the opportunity to look into this marvel more deeply. So as human nature tries to take over, with Satan’s temptations looming and distractions buffetting us even in prayer, be encouraged, because Christ loves you just as you are, and wants you to grow in your knowledge of Him. Soon, Easter joy will commemorate the greatest victory won in the history of the world.