Lord, Hand me the Hammer and the Chisel, Please


Once upon a time a sculptor was chipping away at a huge block of marble.  Two young children, a boy and a girl, watched him work for many weeks.  They stood silently and were amazed when finally a magnificent lion emerged from the stone and stood towering over them.  They ran to him excitedly, their eyes wide with wonder and asked: "How did you know that there was a lion hidden in that rock?"

The sculptor laughed and thought to himself, how do I tell them that I had known the lion before I knew the marble stone and what it hid? But he looked at the children and said: "I was very quiet when I first started and listened to the stone and I heard the lion roaring inside.  Then I chipped away at everything that wasn't the lion and set him free!" (Rites of Justice, Megan McKenna 1997, Orbis Books).

I often think of Lent as a time to be reacquainted with my true self.  A lot of hard covering accumulates over the course of a year and I need God's help to chip it away.  Like the sculptor in the story, I really do know myself better than I know all the accumulated buildup of worry, anxiety, selfishness, laziness but it's easy to forget what my true self looks or feels like and to believe that I am the sum of all those layers of the false me.  Even though I know it is a delusion, it seems the layers are a protection from the reality of disappointment, fear, and commitment.  It's easy to cling to that false self that I create.  But it is just a lie and if I listen very carefully, I can hear my genuine self crying out from within the rock, the one who wants to love, the one who wants to give without counting the cost, the one who wants to go forth and experience God in unexpected ways.  I know because I've done it and it has brought great joy.  So I should probably keep the hammer and chisel handy and do some chipping at the end of each day all year so it doesn't build up so much that it takes the full 40 days of Lent to chip it off!
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