Published in  
February 19, 2021

Lenten Gestures - Learning

Matthew 25:3

"When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them;"

Oh, to be foolishly in love. So captured by the rapturous thrill of it all that all else fades away. Enlivened by a melody within, whimsically dancing about like wonder and awe materialized.

The text tells us of ten brides-to-be, on their way to meet their Beloveds. Each grabbing a lamp to light the way. As if love-enough couldn’t lead them. But either in haste or in hubris, five neglected the oil. And so, we are told, foolish they are. But foolish we already knew. For only fools fall in love. So what then of this foolishness? What was the foolishness of their wayward ways?

Perhaps the foolishness was not their forgetfulness. Nor ignorance. But rather, their arrogance. The human-held conviction that our foolish love could be sustained by our fickle hearts. Oh, how our hearts are strong: big, bold, and brave. But our full-bodied, emboldened courage comes with slivers of such tender vulnerability. And so these hearts — the big, bold, and brave ones — they also bend and bruise and break.

We are foolish to believe we survive on the strength of our hearts alone. For we are sustained only by oil from above. Oil poured upon. Oil in us that is not of us. Oil that recognizes an utter, desperate dependence upon God’s extravagant provision.

The oil is God’s to give. If but only we come to the end of ourselves, and simply ask. May we learn, even and especially in our foolishness, simply to ask for the oil.

“Oh God, our hearts cannot survive without what you give. May we aim not to be both our own blood and water in this body and flesh. But instead, in our veins, may we learn to see you as our source of life.

Give us your oil, oh God. So we may pour out our hearts with your life. Beloveds and Brides. Learners and fools. Fools for your love. Fools filled by your love. Fools pouring out your love. Fools aflame.”

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Photography: Dea Jenkins | "Mietta's Kiss" | digital photograph| 2016