Every living thing is holy and so is our city.

But let’s not confuse holiness with perfection. We are a long way from perfect. We are a flawed but sacred sign of goodness in the world. How else are we to build a city of peace for all people where everyone belongs, if not on the foundation of God’s goodness and beauty at work in us?

Mining goodness and beauty is like mining a precious metal. The really good stuff is found in places we’d rather not go.

We want our religion to take us up and out and make us feel good, but Jesus invites us to go down and in. It’s in the depths that we find not only our deepest identity hidden in Christ, but also the wounds we wish to avoid.

We know from experience that wounds denied do not go away. They fester, only to reveal themselves later with volcanic force. But unless we dare to drop over what Annie Dillard calls “the world’s rim” and learn to ride the monsters we so desperately wish to deny, they will devour us and those we love. Of this we can be certain, “If we do not transform our experience of pain we will transmit it”(Rohr).

Welcome to Lent, Tacoma.

Sadly, our beautiful city is littered with stories we would rather forget and wounds we have tried to deny. We have many monsters to ride! The future of our city depends on it.

The Lenten journey is a counterintuitive journey to life by way of the cross. Each year at this time we are invited to turn and face those things from which we would rather run and hide. We walk to the cross where we experience the great unveiling and see things as they really are. We see God for who God is. We discover ourselves for who we are. This is how we become fully human. This is how we build a shared humanity where everyone belongs.

Thankfully, the Lenten journey is not a race. For most of us, becoming human is a long slow process. It usually takes a lifetime, which is why Lent is an annual journey, not a one-time event. Who of us can go to the depths and reconcile our wounds all in one year? In this sense, we are less like human beings and more like human becomings. It’s part of God’s mercy.

So, let’s start from where we are, and go at our own pace, trusting that in the depths we will find the source of life and our greatest joy. It’s there in the darkness we discover God’s mercy. It’s there that our wounds become wombs of new creation, bearing seeds of new life.

Come, Tacoma! Drop over the world’s rim and ride the monsters. Join the human becoming.

The following reflections were written by pastors who have met weekly for more than six years to practice preaching peace here in Tacoma. They are preaching peace among congregations who are practicing peace. The following reflections are designed to be read, discussed and applied in community—as families, and in small groups. Most of all these Lenten reflections invite us to relax into our primary and most sacred vocation of becoming human, because we are a human becoming.