“My words declare the uprightness of my heart,
and what my lips know they speak sincerely.
The spirit of God has made me,
and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”
What’s your hope for Lent? We have 40 days (minus the Sundays!) between Ash Wednesday on Feb. 10th and Easter Sunday on March 27th. So how will you observe this time? Will you abstain from alcohol or coffee? Commit to waking up early to go exercise? Or maybe just try and be kinder to those around you?
Traditionally, we hold Lent as a season of metanoia. It’s the Greek word we usually translate as “repentance”, but a more accurate translation is something along the lines of “to change your mind” or “to turn around”. And this is the spirit of Lent. This is why sacrifice and new habits have long been such an important part of Lent. The only hope we have for learning something new is to try something new. To add or subtract something and then to pay attention to how it turns us toward God and toward life.
So what if you did commit to exercising every (other?) day? What might you learn about your health or your body? How might you be more deeply connected to this gift from God and how you use it? How about reading or praying with one Psalm every day? Might you learn from how our ancestors in faith were in relationship with God? Might God use that time to lead you toward deeper life with God?
However you choose to live Lent, let it be a time of turning, a time of paying attention to the movement of God in your life, in the life of your family and loved ones, and even in the life of Trinity. As the saying goes, “The grass is greenest where you water it.”
But of course, we also know that sometimes, whether we choose to mark the time or not, Lent finds us. As I write this, I’ve just returned from a hospital visit in which a member’s health is declining and no one knows why, only to return to a message in the office that another member may need serious, life-threatening surgery. We know that sometimes Lent finds us.
Sometimes Lent turns our life around through no choice of our own. Sometimes, the fluff and comfort of life is stripped away and life is pared down to the essential. Sometimes our Lenten discipline is simply to breathe. Sometimes that’s all we can do.
As we make this journey, one more year, from Ash Wednesday to Easter, somewhere we know this is just the journey of our lives, lived in miniature, these 40 days. “From dust you came, and to dust you shall return.” We are born into flesh and blood bodies, mortal bodies, for a time. And one day, we shall rejoice with all creation in the fullness of time. But in between, we live. And we breathe. And we grow. And for this time, may you grow toward God. May your eyes be opened and your hearts be stirred. However you find Lent, or however Lent finds you, may God bless you on your journey.
Grace and peace,