Lenten Letter - Betty Perry

Dear Church,

I have loved reading your reflections on Lent, but feel awkward writing my own.  Were it not for the kind encouragement of a friend, I would not be here.  For there is no place deeper or more personal than what the heart loves.  As Mary said in a recent sermon, "I believe what I give my heart to."

Nor is there any place more treacherous from which to speak.
Still "words are what we have," Neil O'Farrell reminded us in the the Forum today.  And every couple knows what happens when we neglect words.

I grew up in the 1940's in a New England textile city.  Most of my classmates were Catholic, and poor.  But when I saw their Lenten ashes and heard their talk about Holy Days, catechism and confession, I suspected they possessed hidden riches.  I shared their economic circumstance, but I was "Protestant" according to my Southern Methodist mother and my father's Socialism...his only profession.

Like many of you, I came of age eager to put away the childish superstition and wishful thinking of "religion."  So I'm astonished now to be remembering my Catholic grade school friends who began to open my heart to unseen possibilities beneath the surfaces of our world with it's dingy triple deckers and head lice.

Since then Church keeps teaching my heart.  Lent is one of the lessons I'm peculiarly (or perversely?) fond of. Perhaps because I'm bent toward quiet reflection and the prayer of silence. But like all the lessons in liturgies, texts, hymns, etc. Lent works to remind me of light in my darkness.  When I am bored or distracted by worries, I hear the voice in the empty net story saying, "go deeper."

It's hard work ...deepening relationships with others.  The same as it is with the living God of love.  But it's the only work that matters in the end.  I could not keep at it without every single one of you (known and unknown).  It hurts. Because as William Blake said, "We are put on earth a little space to learn to bear the beams of love."

Betty Perry