Back in Black for Lent


i awoke this morning with that all-too-familiar blanket of bewildering blues covering my head and heart.

and as usual, it wasn’t due to any one significant reason or specific season.

just a general gloom, a malignant malaise, a stubborn sadness.

and then i remembered that today is Ash Wednesday.

the day in my faith tradition that begins Lent, the season of facing the realities of our lives, embracing them for what they are, letting go of our sin and shame, and seeking wisdom and strength for living our life’s journeys more faithfully and freely.

if we so choose, we can join with a faith community and receive black ashes upon our foreheads, the visible sign to others and reminder to ourselves of the frailty or our humanity and the fragility of the gift of our lives.

and i found the tears slowly rolling down my cheeks and into my ears a fitting way as any to enter into this reflective and repentant season of life.

but the time eventually came when i needed to emerge out of the pool of those puddled tears and get on with whatever awaits me in the day ahead.

so, as usual, i flipped my laptop open (which now doubles for me as my ‘stereo’), turned on my little bluetooth speaker that is my make-shift ‘sound system’ here in my ‘second home’ in CA, and waited to see what song would arise from out of that mysterious phenomenon known as ‘shuffle mode’ in my iTunes.

(i should note here that my iTunes library contains 26,709 ‘songs’ which take up 182 gigabytes of space on my computer hard drive and would take almost 96 days to play from start to finish. anything from Aaron Copland to Zappa Plays Zappa could surprise me at any moment.)

and as my burdened body and sorrowful soul gradually rolled away the stone of my seemingly led-weighted sheets, i was greeted with this muscular, minor musical miracle:

…A chance to be set free from paranoia into a meadow of metanoia.

‘Back in Black’.

by that oh-so-deeply sensitive and spiritual band, AC/DC.

and i did the only thing i could do in that moment.

i started crying again.

this time with unmitigated, uproarious laughter.

at the sense of humour of the Spirit.

at the reminder that even in the moments where my life truly does feel like a Passion Play, at its heart, it’s more of a Divine Comedy.

at the revelation that perhaps a season like Lent appears not as a required time of shameful self-recrimination, but rather, as the gift of space for reflection which can lead to repentance (literally, to turn away from what leads to inertia and death and towards all that leads to illumination and life).

in other words, a chance to be set free from a pit of paranoia into a meadow of metanoia.

so…here’s to forty-some-odd days of ruminating.

and ROCKING. 🙂


To see more of Brian’s writing, check out the Brian Marsh main page here at Make it Missoula. And for even more, check out his personal blog, Apocalypso Now.


i’m a wanderer and a wonderer. a percussive and paradoxical pastor who exists happily (and hope-full-y) at the intersection of doubt and faith. journeying with my unique and special family (my wife, Kirsten, and sons, Ian and Trevor) whilst temporarily splitting my time between two unique and beautiful places (Missoula, Montana and Ukiah, California). restless and lazy, usually amazed, always in process, i’m continually surprised and usually delighted at discovering the extraordinary in the ordinary, the ‘sacred’ in the ‘secular’, the shafts of light that sneak into the shrouds of darkness. i drum decently, surf poorly, love multicultural food, music, and community, and living in the ‘Zoo.