In an episode in Series II of Downton Abbey, Jane, a maid played by Clare Calbraith, asks Lord Crawley, the Earl of Grantham, (played by Hugh Bonneville) “How are you; Really!” A question like this prompts deep examination of oneself. Most times we repeat the familiar phrase, “I,m fine, thank you” without the slightest reference to what lies deep inside us. To some extent too, the person asking, “how are you?” expects the formulaic response and would be impatient with a list of real life issues.
Sometimes, the season of Lent may mean a ritual of fasting or giving up something – usually a luxury like wine or chocolate or coffee. Or it may mean not eating meat on Fridays, or giving some change to a beggar on the street – the usual thing we do every year during Lent. For some, Lent does not mean anything – after all, why bother about seasons and special days, they reason (a subject Paul discusses in Romans 14:5-6).
In order to fully connect with our inner being, we need to continually ask ourselves, “how are we, really!”. For the spiritual, it is process of self-consciousness and reflection to see how we are aligned with the Universe. For the Christian it is examining our relationship with God.
All of us have a purpose for being here. We are not alone – there are other humans and the rest of creation. This is a season that reminds us to ask, “How are we aligned with God; how are we aligned with the Universe; how are we aligned with the Creation; how are we aligned with one another; Really!”
Without this self-examination and realignment, we lose bearing. Think of the satellites in space. To maintain their orbit and not be lost in the vast expanse of space, they constantly check their positions. Then they adjust accordingly.