Lenten Scripture Reflection | Tuesday: Psalms 21, 23; Lamentations 5.1-22; Galatians 2.1-21

From: Amanda Bennett

I believe in God, but I rarely believe God is real. God usually seems like a concept, or a distant portrait, or maybe a misty cloud of spirit brushing past me. I find it so hard to believe that God is outside of me and that he exists whether I'm thinking about him or not. Maybe that's why the idea that God loves me and cares about me can feel so hollow: what can the care of that mythic being whose picture I carry around mean to me here in all this screaming reality?

What can that God have to do with the particular pain of being a person in this world? Suffering in the abstract is easy to romanticize, but real pain is undignified and mundane. It lives in our bodies and in our homes. In Lamentations, pain is famine, the struggle to buy water, sexual violence, an end to the music, “dancing turned to mourning.” The litany of grief in Lamentations is, like the sorrows in our lives all of us could name, embodied and specific. Jesus' suffering often offers little comfort in these circumstances because his life feels wholly untethered from reality, a noble, mythic heroism that bypasses all of the particularity of being a person.

I need, desperately need, in a way I don't fully understand, for the incarnation to be more than a theological category. The humanity of Jesus is urgent to me. In a place beneath words, I ache at the poignancy of particular people being present to each other. I need Jesus to have a body. I have been grasping for words to put around why, but it comes down to this: a real, specific, embodied God, touching my upturned face. A God who knows, who understands, who can comfort all the way to the bottom of these wounds.

Sometimes I perform dramatic readings of Gerard Manley Hopkins poems alone in my room. I'm always on the lookout for a good Twitter bio or memoir title. I live in Dorchester and work as a tutor.