One of my favorite experiences comes from a very, very holy priest that I worked across the hall from for years. I went to him for advice about a truly horrid situation that was going on. He listened very intently, lovingly and with concern. He paused when I was finished and we just sat quietly for a few minutes. I was waiting for some sage wisdom from this holy man that might bring me some insight.
Finally I broke the silence.
“So, what do you think?” I asked.
“Well Mike…” this holy man answered. “Sometimes shit just happens.”
And he laughed just a bit and quietly got up and walked out.
Now I don’t think that’s what I wanted to hear, but it may have been what I needed to hear. This guy wasn’t blowing me off, but there wasn’t really anything to say about my situation. It wasn’t going to change and I had been praying about it and had been looking for the easy solution in prayer instead of embracing prayer as a means of riding this out.
Life is indeed lousy some days and we will all face the cross and see in the absurdity of a God that dies we find ourselves looking for savior who doesn’t save us but instead suffers with us in our daily crucifixions.
Lent is all about realizing that we always journey to the cross. That we must face the cross and in its horror we all must laugh just a bit in our pain. It doesn’t change the suffering that we all go through, but it also helps us realize that times indeed are not always so bad and moreover, that the cross is not the end of the story. We transcend the cross to a new a deeper life in Christ’s resurrection–a mere foretaste of what lies ahead for us as well.
So each day, when we look for a way out know that we may indeed may not find one and that we may indeed be on the cross for a bit. But it is in that inescapable suffering that we find out who we are and how strong we really can become. It is there that we meet Jesus and together, it is there that we also know that God always defeats suffering and death.
And that is enough to make all of us laugh (and maybe even cry!) with joy.