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Day 22, Lent

Kathleen Norris is an author and artists.  I've used this reflection entitled "repentance" before with committees or groups, but I wanted to share it here.  

When I am working as an artist-in-residence at parochial schools, I like to read the psalms out loud to inspire students, who are usually not aware that the snippets at Mass are among the greatest poetry in the world.  But I have found that when I have asked children to write their own psalms, their poems often have an emotional directness that is similar to that of the biblical psalter.  They know that they are small in a world designed for large people, and often feel lost and abandoned.  Children are frequently astonished to discover that the psalmist so freely expresses the more unacceptable emotions, sadness and anger, even anger at God, and that all of this is in the Bible that they read on Sunday mornings in church.

Children who are picked on by their big brothers and sisters can be remarkably adept when it comes to writing cursing psalms or stories.  One little boy wrote a poem called "The monster who was sorry".  He began to admit that he hates when his father is angry and yells at him: his response in the poem is to throw his sister down the stairs, then wreck his room, and finally wreck the whole town.  The poem concludes, "Then I sit in my messy house and say to myself, 'I shouldn't have done all that."

"My messy house" says it all; with more honesty than most adults could have mustered, the boy admitted his rage and by doing so opened a door of escape for forgiveness.  If the boy was a novice in the fourth century monastic desert, his elders (fathers) might have told him that he was well on the way towards repentance, not such a monster after all, but only human.  If the house is messy, they might say, "Why not clean it up and make it a place where God wishes to dwell?"

In this season of repentance, may you be honest with yourself and with God.

Posted by Laurie Weicher at 6:00 AM
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