Lent is about half over, and what have I done? Nothing special. The Pope has gone to confession in full public view, like an ordinary mortal (good for him!).
Instead of confessing my sins, I have been preoccupied with growing old and being aware of a number of frail people older than I who face death. There is considerable suffering all around me. And fear. I try to turn this awareness into a Lenten prayer.
Thomas Keating, the Trappist monk who has done much wonderful work in promoting contemplative prayer, writes out of his own physical frailty that we who endure pain and aging are stumbling along with Christ as he carries the cross: all who suffer are united with him in "the oneness of the human family." We are not alone, and suffering is not pointless.
Jesus, who faced the fear of death that haunts all of us, showed (James Alison writes) that we need not be afraid of the shame and disgrace of dying. He did so willingly, in the full flowering of his manhood, not in old age; he did so without being embittered or resentful. He put his suffering and death in the context of love.
Now, as I contemplate the fate of my friends and family who undergo the pain of growing old, I can join with them in union with the cosmic Christ and see that there is strength in the love that connects us.