One of the words that quickly comes to my mind when I consider the season of Lent is that wonderful word mercy. There are a number of word pictures accompanying that word that also flood my mind. The most often and most meaningful image I land on when I think of mercy comes from a wonderful story from the pen of Walter Wangerin. The story is entitled Ragman, and I heartily recommend the book of the same title to you. Wangerin read that story many years ago at a Youth Specialties conference, and it connected the dots between God’s mercy and my great need in a way that still resonates.
Lent is a time when we come to see our need for the great mercy of our God. During this season, we are challenged to become aware of our dustiness and our propensity to wander from God’s best. The other side of that story is: God is with us and offering mercy and a way to return to God’s will and way.
During this time of Lent, may we have open eyes to not only see our great need but also our great way-maker. Walter Wangerin opens his book Ragman with the following invocation:
Unto you, Lord, Unto you, Lord God of the Worlds, I turn. And even when I do not know I am turning, I turn to you.
Your print is everywhere, and everywhere divine.
Where can I look and I do not see you?
Into myself? But I encompass you, who compass me from every corner, for I am sin and you are forgiveness and I cannot live except it be by you. My life itself is yours. No, when I look at me I see the thing that you have done.
Then where can I look and I do not see you? [Ragman and Other Cries of Faith, Walter Wangerin, p. IX.]
Thank God for mercy that is more than enough! May we live a blessed Lent.