Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;
remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil.
17 learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed,
defend the orphan, plead for the widow.
18 Come now, let us argue it out, says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow;
though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.
19 If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land;
20 but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword;
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
From The True Wilderness by H.A. Williams (Library of Anglican Spirituality ed. Susan Howatch) 1994 p.29.
It is a pity that we think of Lent as a time when we try to make ourselves uncomfortable in some fiddling but irritating way. And it's more than a pity, it's a tragic disaster, that we also think of it as a time to indulge in the secret and destructive pleasure of doing a good orthodox grovel to a pseudo-Lord, the pharisee in each of us we call God and who despises the rest of what we are.
…Lent is supposed to be the time when we think of Jesus in the wilderness. And the wilderness belongs to us. It is always lurking somewhere as part of our experience, and there are times when it seems pretty near the whole of it. …
…Most people's wilderness is inside them, not outside. … Our wilderness, then, is an inner isolation. It's an absence of contact. It's a sense of being alone — boringly alone, or saddeningly alone, or terrifyingly alone. Often we try to relieve it — understandably enough, God knows, — by chatter, or gin, or religion, or sex, or possibly a combination of all four. The trouble is that these purple hearts can work their magic only for a very limited time, leaving us after one short hour or two exactly where we were before.
As I said, our isolation is really us — ……