Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the season of prayer and penance that prepares the so-called Christian world for Easter (April 17th).
Lent should be especially welcome this year when would-be followers of Yeshua have somehow been caught up in a faith-contradictory fever of war.
In traditional terms Lenten "penance" is the English translation of the theological term metanoia. It refers to a change of heart and mind; it's connected "conversion" and "reformation."
More specifically, metanoia is about atonement in the sense of at-one-ment. That means acceptance of the spiritual reality that all human beings represent a single entity.
In the eyes of Life's Great Spirit, there are no Americans, Russians, Chinese, or Africans. All of us are even more than brothers and sisters. In the great scheme of things, there is actually no distinction between us. There are no valid borders - not between Russia and Ukraine, not even between the U.S. and Mexico.
That's the meaning of Yeshua's injunction: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Our neighbors (even if they live in Russia or Ukraine) are ourselves." That's what Paul meant when he said that in the Great Mother's order, "there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female." (Galatians 3:28). There is really only one of us here.
You see, missing from the entire debate about the war in Ukraine and about U.S. policy everywhere has been faith, diplomacy and compromise in place of the reigning machismo, self-assertion, militarism, refusal to give in (e.g., about Ukraine's admission to NATO) and belief in American or Russian "exceptionalism."
So, this Lent, how about embracing at-one-ment and giving up chauvinism? During the war in Ukraine, the continued U.S. occupation of Syria, its genocidal bombing of Yemen and Somalia, its famine-inducing sanctions of Afghanistan, and its illegal support of Israel's apartheid system, it's time for American Christians to embrace the viewpoint of Yeshua and Paul. Only that can save us now.
It's high time to leave behind the ethnocentrism, jingoism, and warmongering our government, the arms industry, and the mainstream media would have us faithlessly endorse. It's time to give up chauvinism for Lent.
And that's hard, isn't it? It's difficult because it entails admission of our own responsibility for strife in the world rather than blaming fictional others. They're "fictional" because in the eyes of our Mother, there are no "others" to blame. You and I - "Americans" - are 100% responsible for the disastrous state of the planet. Again, there is no one else to accuse.
So, if we're thinking about what to "give up for Lent," how about giving up chauvinism, jingoism, militarism, and war?
Join the peace movement founded not on a spirit of "Don't Look Up," but on determination to spend the next 40 days looking within and changing the ugliness and bringing to light the loveliness we see there.