A mass of legend and literature, which increases and will never end, has repeated and rung the changes on that single paradox; that the hands that had made the sun and stars were too small to reach the huge heads of the cattle. Upon this paradox, we might almost say upon this jest, all the literature of our faith is founded…
I mean that all the eyes of wonder and worship which had been turned outwards to the largest thing were now turned inward to the smallest…
It is true that the spiritual spiral henceforward works inwards instead of outwards, and in that sense is centripetal and not centrifugal. The faith becomes, in more ways than one, a religion of little things.
“The grinding power of the plain words of the Gospel story is like the power of millstones; and those who read them…will feel as if rocks had been rolled upon them.”
G.K. Chesterton in The Everlasting Man
The observance of Lent is a downward trajectory, heavy laden. The betrayal and denial by His closest friends during that final week in Jerusalem only amplifies His suffering and the sacrifice He was prepared to offer, even when forsaken. Lent is a disconsolate descent into sadness, sliding into the overwhelming reality of the stone being rolled in place to seal a tomb. That moment effectively cuts man off from God, and it is as if we too are crushed, our breath and life forced from us, by that very stone. There is nothing darker than a sealed tomb, other than the knowledge of eternal separation from God.
From the vantage point under the stone, there is no way to comprehend the eventual lifting of the impossible weight of sin, the ascent into an unbearable lightness of new life. As hard shelled kernels ground to remove our useless hull, we will never be the same again.