Lent is on the horizon, like a vast desert, and I am standing at its border.
Lent is a season of penitence, growth, longing, striving, waiting, sitting, listening, challenging, giving, refraining, stopping, praying, cleaning, changing, transforming.
You can take your pick of these descriptors. What catches your attention?
I ponder these ideas and start every Lent with a grand plan formed by one or more of them. That plan always changes along the way. Sometimes it is simply demolished.
The map is torn away in the storm and I am left standing in the wild, grit in my orifices, blind and deaf to my best intentions.
Left lost and naked, I have the choice to see myself, to engage with God. Growth and change– conversion–now has room to dance the waltz of transformation.
And that is the ultimate Lent scheme.
So here I am, hours away from Fat Tuesday, and a bit longer until I taste the ashes that spill off my forehead onto my lips as I commit to this new dance. But ultimately, I wonder what awaits in this year’s version of the desert.
I take out my notepad and plot ideas on my sacred map:
- I will read and be challenged by that reading. A selection by John Dear and a book on The Stations of the Cross are at my prayer spot, ready to be cracked open.
- I am signed up for an online retreat on Lectio Divina, hoping for new insights into God’s Word.
- I shall challenge myself not to shop or spend money without giving hard and directed thought as to why I am doing so; who it impacts; how it could be done more thoughtfully [or not at all…]
- I bravely choose to fast from fear. That may mean less time on Facebook. It might also mean more directed intentional action and advocacy in the face of fear. This stance will require a rootedness in God’s love for sure.
- Finally, I plot to clean six different rooms, ridding myself of the unnecessary, the unworn, the clutter. I hope to divide up those items into recycling, reusing, and meaningful sharing.
As I peruse this list, I see that it is pretty ambitious. If I become over tired or ill, very little here will be tended to. I suppose that is the risk I take in making my map.
What do I really hope for in this exercise of Lent?
I want to go deeper into my soul. I want to unmask the “stuff” I have learned to just live with, call it by name, and determine what needs to go, and what may remain. Ultimately, I am seeking my true self, the self God created in God’s image and likeness. The person who can and should live with integrity.
Again, I am drawn to the words of Micah 6:8–
You have been told, O mortal, what is good,
and what the Lord requires of you:
Only to do justice and to love goodness,
and to walk humbly with your God. (NABRE)
The desert calls. I fold my map and stick it in a pocket, hoping for the best…