By Wendy M. Wright
Illustration by Mipa Lee ’05
In C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia—which recently flashed to life on silver screens around the globe—the beloved character of Aslan the lion, in a staggering act of sacrifice, rescues the residents of Narnia from the White Witch’s icy clutches. But despite this hero’s goodness and love, C. S. Lewis cautions that Aslan is not a tame lion. He is both fierce and good.
With a similar approach to the Lenten season, author and theologian Wendy M. Wright—the keynote speaker at Messiah College’s recent Spring Humanities Symposium—invites us to prepare our hearts to be changed by the transforming power of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice and resurrection. She draws us into meditations surrounding the very heart of the Lenten season, which she envisions not only in the blossoming of a flower garden, but also in the fiery eruption of a volcano. These images illuminate the universal movements of the seasons—both creative and chaotic.
It is common to think of heaven, God’s place, as ordered and harmonious. Dante depicted it this way in the third book of his Divine Comedy. Shining, light-filled, an eternal pearl, Dante’s holy spheres reflect the Divine Intel-ligence in their circling unity. So too Hildegard of Bingen, the 12th-century Benedictine abbess, in her visionary treatise Scivias, beheld the heights of heaven and in it the choirs of angels arranged in ever-widening concentric circles, mandala-like, their celestial voices raised in magnificent and mellifluous chorus.
As with heaven, so with God. Our most common imaginings about God are of peace, beauty, fullness, wholeness, completion, order, and design. By extension we often assume the spiritual life to be the same. If, however, we allow the liturgical season of Lent to carry us, we will discover that that season ushers us into a movement that is not so clearly ordered. It is most certainly not like a leisurely or even purposeful walk toward our appointed goal. The season of forty days will draw us into a movement both chaotic and creative. We enter into the rhythm of disequilibrium—indeed, of dying—essential to the formation of new life.
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