Twice in the past two years I've taken a hard fall on ice: once at night walking on a dimly-lit sidewalk and another time on black ice in broad daylight. The first time no one was around. The second time I was in a public parking lot. My first act after the fall—before getting up—was to look around to see if anyone had observed my embarrassing fall.
Yesterday was Ash Wednesday. We had bookend services, one at 8:00 a.m. in the chapel, the other at 7:00 p.m. The services were essentially the same: readings, sermon, imposition of ashes, confession, communion. Just the essentials.
Why do we humans so love to fake goodness? Year after year Lent brings another shout-out to the soul. Year after year we find ourselves dragged forward against the grain of our pretensions of religiosity, through the vulnerability of hearts tender with shames and fears, so that God may find us and make of us transmitters of a light other than our own.