One of my favorite Hemingway books is “The Moveable Feast”, which was published after he died. It contains wonderful stories about Paris in the 1920s, where he and his wife hung out with notable expatriate writers along with artists like Picasso. The mood in Paris after World War I was spirited, enthusiastic, and creative. However, these starving artists, yet to be discovered and appreciated, struggled to survive doing what they loved. I remember a passage where Hemingway felt he could no longer write, and the advice he gave for such writer’s block was simply “to write one true sentence.” If he could write one true sentence, he could write again.
Lent is like that for me because it calls me into the company of the truth. Marv Henk, the flimm-flamm man, the phoney, the coward, and the hypocrite, must face the truth. The truth is he can be all of those things and has been. Lent tells us that, no matter who we are and what we do, the truth is we are mortal. We can avoid it, we can run from it, but that doesn’t solve the problem when it comes to facing ourselves.
Once you face yourself, you can move on to becoming a better person, or at least a changed one.