COVENANT. That is the focus-word for the 6th day of Lent in this year’s word-a-day practice. As I entered the day with this word in mind, my thoughts went first to the obvious: the covenant-sign of a rainbow that God placed in the sky as a covenant to Noah after the story of the flood. A visual reminder of the covenant of life between God and humankind.
“Okay,” I thought, “that’s that. Today’s word is pretty easy.” That is, until I decided to look up its origin in the dictionary. That’s when my preconceived notion was put on its on its metaphorical ear. The word, covenant, has its origins in the Old French word, convenīre, which means to come together or to agree.
Come together? Agree? Those are two-sided concepts; not one-sided. Somehow, I always thought of this particular covenant as something God promised to us. That beautiful rainbow after the rain, there in the sky just to remind us to receive the promise of life. An open-my-arms-wide-and-recieve kind of covenant. Nothing required on my end except to just receive — right?
Wrong. I really did know better. I worked with legal documents for many years in my job with a major technology corporation. An agreement always included two parties and two signatures. There was always reciprocal terms – Party A does this and Party B does that.
I thought of the vows that Randy and I wrote to each other for our wedding day. I lovingly spoke my vows to Randy, and he, equally-lovingly, spoke his vows to me. It was a public declaration of our commitment to, and compromises for the other. Can you imagine a wedding where vows were spoken by only one spouse?
This realization stopped me in my tracks. If God entered into a life-focused covenant with Noah and all humankind, what is our part in this covenant – not only to God, but to each other as human beings, as well as to our own selves? How often have I failed to live up to my end of the agreement? What is it that I covenant with God each day? With other human beings? With this planet? With myself?
These questions; so close to my heart as I went through my day. I can tell you that it changed how I viewed the other person in the elevator, in the parking lot, walking in my neighborhood. It changed how I looked at the beauty of the natural world around me. It changed how I view myself. And it changed my conversation and communion with God.
Each of these, an entity to whom I make a love-filled vow every single day – and open wide my heart to hear its echo back to me.