Repent is a word which seems to go hand in hand with the Christian faith.
Have you seen this guy on the street corner with the bullhorn?
I don’t think “repent” generally leaves one with a warm, fuzzy feeling.
When my classmate recently reflected to me that “for now God just wants her for himself/it’s time for her to just be” (see my “Tumbleweeds” post), my paradigm shifted.**
The shift was from scarcity to abundance, from seeking to being sought, from lonely to beloved.
I prefer the word “T’shuva”.
In his book, Made for Goodness ***, Desmond Tutu writes this:
T’shuva (“returning”) is the Hebrew word in the Bible that describes finding our way back to goodness. We return to ourselves, to our godliness, to wholeness. We may set out on our way back convinced that the journey will take a lifetime. We recognize that we have wandered so far from home, from good, from God. We have so much to do to become the people God intended us to be. Recognition is the first step of the journey home. The second step is reorientation. The return to goodness requires that we turn around.
Knowing my love for labyrinths, Chrisita gave me this amazing labyrinth bowl many years ago. It sits on my desk at work and holds paperclips. Sometimes I dump the paperclips and let my finger follow along the labyrinth path to the center and back out to the start.
“Yes, I can love infinitely because I know God can love infinitely. God loved me and sought me many years when I was turned in a different direction.” – (See my “The Flow of Love” post)
I was turned in a different direction.
Repenting is turning back towards God. It can happen again and again and again.
Just like in a labyrinth.
The first picture in the post is from a book I am studying in a class on centering prayer led by Alice and Jim. It is a wonderful class. On the cover of the book is a labyrinth. Follow the path with your finger. I love labyrinths because they are a metaphor for life. I continue to learn from labyrinths…I continue to learn from life. Follow the path forward to the center of the labyrinth and notice the 360 degree turns it makes.
Imagine walking in a human sized labyrinth. One moment you are walking forward and then it turns totally in the opposite direction. Always, always, always moving forward.
Does repent mean I was doing something wrong and now have to correct? Maybe, but even the “doing something wrong” is part of the journey. And maybe repent means a new perspective, like when I realized God wanted me as much as I wanted, like when I realized my friend was not ignoring me but rather her memory is failing, like when I kept looking at my phone for a message from a beloved to no avail and realized perhaps that is how God feels when I take long breaks in communicating with God.
Look at that labyrinth path. Sometimes we can go forward with no turn for quite a long time. And sometimes it seems every few steps is another turn. I could go on and on and on talking about labyrinths.
Rather, let me wrap up with a link to the beautiful sermon on love spoken at Prince Harry and Meghan’s wedding today.
Bishop Curry began by quoting The Song of Soloman:
From the Song of Solomon in the Bible: Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is as strong as death, passion as fierce as the grave, its flashes of flashes of fire, a raging flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it out
He ended by slightly misquoting Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. I could also go on and on about Teilhard. Here is Teilhard’s precise quote:
Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.
The New Testament says it this way, “beloved, let us love one another because love is of God and those who love are born of God and know God, those who do not love do not know God.
Because I am loved I can love.
*Photo credit, Chrisita.
**Paradigm Shift: I remember few things from my 6.5 years in college and graduate school. One thing I remember was in my first year of college reading a book by Thomas Kuhn on scientific paradigm shifts. Per Wikipedia, Paradigm…”In science and philosophy, a paradigm /ˈpærədaɪm/ is a distinct set of concepts or thought patterns, including theories, research methods, postulates, and standards for what constitutes legitimate contributions to a field.” Read more Here
***Made for Goodness was written by Desmond Tutu with his daughter Mpho Tutu. My friend Sue gave this book to me and I loved it so much that I purchased four copies to share with others. It is one of three books intentionally placed in my living room in clear eyesight.