The splendor of Antelope Canyon can take your breath away. Unless you drive right past it.
Perhaps the world’s most photographed slot canyon, it’s frankly not much to look at from above. A slit in the barren sandstone, nothing more.
Sitting quietly with this Sunday’s gospel—the perhaps all-too-familiar story of Jesus raising his friend Lazarus from the dead—I was reminded of the journey we made a few years back to visit Antelope Canyon. It involved some debate amongst our traveling party as I recall, because it takes quite an effort to get there: Hours of driving away from Arizona’s Grand Canyon (and other more famous destinations). Would it be worth the effort?
A very similar question occurred to me when I noticed this detail—about the sisters of Lazarus—in the gospel passage:
When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him; but Mary sat at home.
Lent can be a little like that, I realized. We can encounter this holy season as an invitation — and make an effort to enter into it. Or we can choose to sit at home.
Lent can be a time of fitful starts…and uncertain resolutions, too. The notion of allowing our hearts to be converted may sound attractive at first. But eventually we realize there’s a price to be paid. The spiritual journey comes at a cost.
Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha, the dead man’s sister, said to him, ‘Lord, by now there will be a stench; he has been dead for four days.’
We tend to discount the power of grace.
And I think we may underestimate the depth of Christ’s desire to set us free.
He cried out in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth. So Jesus said to them, ‘Untie him and let him go.’
The story of Lazarus makes it clear: There’s something extraordinary awaiting us – once we convince ourselves to commit to the journey.
Christ desires to bathe us in Light.
Gorgeous, vibrant, replenishing, transformative Light.
Our job is simply to step into Christ’s presence — and let that Light wash over us, and make us new.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.