Solidarity: A Reflection by Rachel Wilson

As we near the end of Rice & Beans Month 2020, we are thankful to share this timely reflection by Rachel Wilson, the Associate Pastor of Imago Kids at Imago Dei Community in Portland, Oregon. As Lent, Rice & Beans Month, and the coronavirus pandemic have all converged this year, Rachel’s words offer us a perspective on the unique work of God during this unexpected journey.

Solidarity: A Lenten Reflection

by Rachel Wilson, Associate Pastor at Imago Dei Community

It started when I was 11 – the “practicing” of Lent. I use the word practice intentionally, because that is exactly what it has been.   

It began, like many great things, with candy. The highlight of life growing up in our small town was to make daily trips to Ben Franklin. We would go to buy candy using the change found in the town wishing well. Yes. We took people’s wishes and fulfilled them with flavored tootsie rolls… for ourselves. Kate and I did everything together during those years – so practicing solidarity with her Catholic family by giving up candy for 40 days only made sense. The sacrifice, while lacking any spiritual significance for us, was a huge undertaking of self-control.

In my late teen years God got a hold of my heart and I became passionate about following the teachings of Jesus. Praise be to God. I was introduced to a small (but life-changing) book titled Mudhouse Sabbath, by Lauren Winner. The book doesn’t directly address Lent, but I still to this day read it every year right around Ash Wednesday to remind me the value of spiritual practices… particularly fasting. I began to learn solidarity with those who have gone before me in the Faith. Too often I “want to want” God, and this little book continues to be a gentle nudge to keep practicing. Without realizing it, the “want to want” finds its way to a true hunger for God. And that is the phrase I take with me now when I fast: “When I am hungry… I am hungriest for God.” (p91, Winner)

But fatigue found a way into my heart as I grew older – and the practice of fasting lost its luster. Raising young ones is a refining fire of its own… be gentle on yourselves. You won’t really know how hard it was until you get through it – and then you’ll realize what a rockstar you were.

All that aside, God brought us a fresh fasting invitation in due time: solidarity with those in need through Lahash. Our emotional margins and bank account had grown enough for us to give it a try. In partnering with Lahash during Rice & Beans Month, I felt renewed purpose in fasting – like the exhortation given in Isaiah 58.  “Is this not the kind of fast I have chosen for you?… to share your food with the hungry?… Then you will call, and the LORD will answer ‘Here I am!'”   Rice & Beans Month with Lahash continues to be a meaningful way for us to fast together as a family – teaching our kids the reward of consuming less so we can share more, and denying our own desires in order to love others.

Fast forward to this year’s Lenten journey. Coronavirus made it comically difficult for our meals to be in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in East Africa. Beans and rice were hard to find. But that’s okay – because the solidarity Jesus had for me this year was with YOU. As I entered this season of Lent, I tried to choose the fast God had for me. And all this “practicing” over the past couple decades has strengthened my muscles a bit. Inspired by my friend, Jordan Green, I wanted to learn to kneel before God. In a funny turn of events – God has been waking me up often in this season at 4am. And, while I really miss sleeping, when I meet with God on the floor in the middle of the night – YOU are the people He brings to my mind. Your marriages, your children, your grief, your pain, your heartache, your parents, your truest hunger… He has put you heavy on my heart and made me desperate for you to know His goodness. 

My brothers and sisters – made in the glorious Imago Dei – may you today know that when you call out to Him, “the LORD will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.” (Isaiah 58:11) And if you happen to wake at 4am, know that I am often with you – learning to kneel and learning to want the One that will truly satisfy.