On a rainy summer’s day, during a game of Monopoly last year, I placed (with some delight) three hotels along my favourite colour, the oranges. Slowly, however, I became surrounded. The pinks and then the yellows and finally the greens went to other members of the family which all threatened my negotiations and a possible win. I eventually picked up the Chance card only to be told to ‘Advance to Pall Mall’. There was a hotel there. I offered my Water Works card and my last £80 in cash and promised not to charge them for their next Vine Street landing, to no avail. I had to give up.
Our nature is often not to give up willingly.
Many of us will be starting today by thinking of giving up something though and so it seems very appropriate for Lent to begin on Valentine’s Day. The ultimate ‘giving up’ of life on Good Friday that we now travel towards. The giving up of life, for ours, out of love.
This Valentine’s Day we might remember that we are deeply loved. And so I hope you won’t be upset if you’re not receiving chocolates or flowers; there’s already been a much greater gesture made for you.
Jesus gave up his life; God gave up his only son. We can but imagine the full impact of that giving up. How do we respond to such a humble self-giving?
So what are you giving up today?
Can we possibly give something up of ourselves this Lent? Our ego, shouting out to have its way, exerting its power and its need to be right; can we give up something of that? Can we, over the next forty days, and starting with the day set aside for lovers, remember the ultimate ‘giving up’ and see that we may, as we journey, learn to let go of some of the things that we seek to negotiate, bargain with and want so much to cling on to?
Richard Rohr, in his book Immortal Diamond, says that “Jesus’ central and oft-repeated teaching that we must die to ourselves, or “lose ourselves to find ourselves” (Mark 8:35)” is intended for our “personal liberation”. Can we begin Lent with a response of letting go, that leads to freedom and, ultimately, a greater peace?
A Reflection or Prayer
I don’t really want to give up much of myself
That might hurt more than the hurts I hold to –
Giving them away
Seems like losing the things that protect me
That draw people to me.
Can I know a bigger love
And a more expansive me?
A self that is happy to give away –
And give something up of myself
That I might find myself.