It is impossible to learn anything, unless we admit we know nothing, to ourselves. That could apply to learning a new language, a new skill, a new process, a new stage in life. It also could and does, apply to our spiritual life. Any attempt to grow spiritually, to deepen our love for God and neighbour has to be first guided by our willingness to admit we know nothing (or very little) of God’s patience, mercy and grace.
The Church in its wisdom, places quite profoundly the remembrance of the fall of Adam and Eve, and their expulsion from Eden, on the Sunday before the Great Fast for our consideration. This is where our 40 day journey has to start, identifying ourselves with the brokeness and destitution of both Adam and Eve.
Although not an Icon by any stretch, Masaccio’s “Expulsion from the Garden of Eden”, captures the absolute horror and grief of the event. It is almost hard to look at. And it is with this same grief and horror, that any growth in love for God and neighbour must start. For if we feel insulated and unaffected by this event (or even by the picture), if we feel insulated and unaffected by the millennia of tragic events in our history, there is no way we can see, understand, and even participate in the eternal victory by the New Adam, in Christ’s saving passion death and resurrection, let alone be healed of our own grief and horrors.
We have to start this fast with the admission that we know nothing except our brokeness, and the need to be healed through Christ. May the Lord bless this journey with clarity and peace.