Here’s something cheerful for Lent:
“In despair, despair not. Let yourself accept everything; in reality it is only an acceptance of the finite and the futile. Make yourself block up every exit; only the exits to the finite, the paths that lead to what is really trackless, will be dammed up. Do not be frightened over the loneliness and abandonment of your interior dungeon, which seems to be so dead — like a grave. For if you stand firm, if you do not run from despair, if in despair over the idols which up to now you called God you do not despair in the true God, if you thus stand firm — this is already a wonder of grace — then you will suddenly perceive that your grave-dungeon only blocks the futile finiteness; you will become aware that your deadly void is only the breadth of God’s intimacy, that the silence is filled up by a word without words, by the one who is above all name and is all in all. That silence is God’s silence. It tells you that he is there.
That is the second thing you should do in your despair: notice that God is there. Know with faith that he is with you. Perceive that for a long time now he has been waiting for you in the deepest dungeon of your blocked-up heart, and that for a long time he has been quietly listening to you, even though you, after all the busy noise that we call our life, do not even let him get a word in edgewise, and his words to the man-you-were-until-now seem only deadly silence. You shall see that you by no means make a mistake if you give up your anxiety over yourself and your life, that you by no means make a mistake if you relax your hold on self, that you are by no means crushed with despair if once and for all you despair of yourself, of your wisdom and strength, and of the false image of God that is snatched away from you.
As if by a miracle, which must be renewed every day, you will perceive that you are with him. You will suddenly experience that your God-distance is in truth only the disappearance of the world before the dawning of God in your soul, and that the darkness is nothing but God’s brightness, that throws no shadow, and your lack of outlets is only the immeasurability of God, to whom no road is needed, because he is already there. You shall see that you should not try to run away from your empty heart, because he is already there, and so there can be no reason for you to flee from this blessed despair into a consolation that does not exist.
If we do this, then peace comes all by itself. Peace is the most genuine activity: the silence that is filled with God’s word, the trust that is no longer afraid, the sureness that no longer needs to be assured, and the strength that is powerful in weakness — it is, then, the life that rises through death. There is nothing more in us then but God; God and the almost imperceptible and yet all-filling faith that he is there, and that we are.”