I sat at my favorite hometown coffeeshop today, writing, grading, thinking. Lent has put me in a pensive state; I am aiming to attend to my daily life with intentionality and focus as a practice of the season. What kind of life am I living? Where is there sin in my life that needs to be rooted out, repented of, and turned away from? What is God pointing me toward? Away from? How can I say yes to him more fully? What does it mean to obey him today?
I was sitting near a window, soaking up the sunshine that is peeling the snow back from the soaked earth. This coffee shop shares a driveway with a Catholic church, and as I sat and wrote near the window, I saw a college student down that driveway, see the church, and quickly cross herself. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I found myself thinking. I spent years in an Anglican church, and the movement that was so foreign to me as a child became a normal part of my weekly church experience in college. Forehead, chest, left shoulder, right shoulder.
The sign of the cross.
And I was reminded: this is the good news to be found in the middle of Lent. We are making our way to the cross. It was a simple reminder, but a central and necessary one, and it is how we can make it through the consideration of our own sin without losing hope. We walk through Lent because we are heading toward the Cross. The journey there will be difficult at times; the fact that Christ needed to bear the cross points to the reality of brokenness and sin in a wounded world. But he went. He went! He went to the cross willingly and full of love—for us, the broken and wounded. He took the shame and the pain that was rightfully ours to carry.
The sign of the cross is mercy to us. It is a mercy to me. In the long days of Lent, I am pausing to remember that we are the ones who live in the shadow of the cross.
And the cross is good news, indeed.