Living with high adventure and mundane frustration all at once

I’m reading a great book by Michael Chricton, author of Jurassic Park. It’s all about his world travels, a memoir of sorts. One line stuck out this week as he described his efforts to watch the great sea turtles of Malaysia lay their eggs: “Driving miles back and forth in the dark looking for my hotel, this wasn’t high adventure, just mundane frustration.” Rarely does a written word make me laugh out loud, but that phrase had me roaring. As we traverse Lent, there’s certainly a dimension of high adventure: “Lord, I’m with you in the desert. Lord, save me from my sins; make me holy! Lord make me more perfectly your instrument in the world!” All off this is very real. Like the woman at the well, or the man born blind, or Lazarus in the tomb, Jesus desires to do great things for us. But those great things don’t come along every moment of every day, do they?
The woman suffered years of humiliation, the blind man a life without sight, Lazarus death before the hero -Jesus- arrived to save them… and afterwards all of them had to clean their homes, go shopping and deal with the desert heat like anyone else. The Blessed Virgin Mary too… she had lots of great adventurous moments, but in between she lived, daily, with the knowledge that one day a sword would pierce her. Hence, even in happy moments, she is portrayed with a very pensive almost sad look.
The line between high adventure and mundane frustration is thin indeed. While I can’t take away or speed up those hard moments, the witness of Scripture has certainly helped me through so much frustration. In the famous Lenten Psalm 51, we learn, “Sacrificium Deo spiritus contribulatus.” “A spirit afflicted with tribulation is a sacrifice to God.” The standard English translation, “my sacrifice is a contrite spirit,” doesn’t really capture the substance of what God is telling us. He’s saying that he knows our struggle… he knows how the long days and even years of challenge hurt our hearts. He knows because Jesus his Son experienced all of it. …And just as Jesus offered the high adventures and the mundane frustration to his Father as a worthy sacrifice to save us, we can do likewise through him. Be not afraid, our sufferings have meaning! With Christ we are winning great graces from the Father for the salvation of our families, our community, our world.

A Prayer for the Start of Lent

O Jesus, my Saviour and my Lord,

during this Lent, I want to unite myself to you,

praying and fasting in the desert, 

to you who suffered and humbled yourself for me.

By your solitude and your silence,
detach me from the things of this world and draw me to yourself.

By your hunger and your sacrifices,
open me to your grace and enlarge my desire for you.

By your temptations and your sufferings,

fortify me in my struggles.

By your return to public life, teach me to live with you and in you, so that amidst the world and its trials, filled with you and your life,

I may shine only with you and your joy.

Pierre Cardinal Berulle

Founder of the French Oratory.