Mark 10:16. And Jesus took the children up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.
Lent can make me feel like a child. Watching the events of Passion Week unfold, especially, I find myself surrounded by words and symbols and events that I know to be important, but also don’t fully understand. It reminds me of how monumental tradition was to me as a child: we do something because it’s always been done, which imparts a sense of gravitas that I felt, even if I couldn’t name it. Every time the fire is lighted outside the church at the Easter vigil service, I get the feeling that we all experience that elemental moment with childlike wonder.
The scene this passage describes has been depicted in countless ways, and it’s one of my favorite images of Jesus. It’s also one I often forget about at this time of year, when I become so fixated on the story of the crucifixion that it’s hard to call to mind a more gentle and benevolent time in his life. Like the fire burning new in the darkness of Easter morning, the contrast is striking, which is why I feel moved to consider it more this Lent. What might I learn, recalling the Jesus surrounded by children, clambering for his blessing, when faced by Jesus on the cross, abandoned and alone?