I have always had lofty hopes for Lenten observance. I spend the last days prior to Ash Wednesday dreaming of how I will pray an hour in the wee morn every day and an hour in the twilight of day’s break. I envision myself equipping a warrior by reading the entire Bible during the 40 day Lenten period. I will proclaim my giving up of booze, meat, or other self-fulfilling actions just to lose hope at my weak will some days into Lent.
One year I committed myself to fast the forty days with a few buddies of mine. We were going to prove…no earn the right to be Christians. None of that candy ass easy stuff (like giving up meat) for us. We were going to give up all food for 40 days. We were like ninjas for Jesus, the shock troops of Lent!
Lent seems to be that period of time when Christians hold themselves hostage of God in order to inspire actions that are presumed to be beyond capacity in any other normal circumstance. Lent, in this light, is the high holiday of self-loathing and pity. Lent is the place where barrage after barrage of emotional and physical terror are endured, along with the final assault of “I am a lousy, unworthy person.”
Lent is a place to begin a new “Spiritual” diet, a new physical diet. How many times have we taken the opportunity of Lent to commit to loving ourselves more by participating in the latest fad diet or purchasing the latest exercise videos? To many of us Lent is a wake up call or reminder that we all ready fucked up our commitment to the New Years promise of doing better.
I have never been successful at any of the Lenten practices I offer. If I do not set myself to high aspirations in my Lenten practices I give Lent no thought at all. I give up on the mutual participation of intentional practice [perhaps submission is more appropriate] between Creator and creation. I leave for home and take my ball. I take my dog out of the fight. I throw in the towel.
It may seem that I have no sanctity of Lent and the posture surrounding it. I, in fact, love lent. It is my favorite part of the Liturgical Calendar. Lent pulls my thoughts, words, and deeds together in a humble reminder that I am me and God is Thee. Lent is a time for me to take inventory and respond.
Only by the time I respond to Lent, lent has left the building. I wish that Lent got more than its share of calendar. Imagine a world where we sit in the shadow of Creator to physically remember who, what, and why we are.
This year I want different. I want more out of Lent. I want to dazzle Jesus and properly don my minister’s cape. I want to inspire, lead, guide people to a better more humane Lent. After all, what is the use of Lent absent humanity?
I have ideas on Spiritual Practices for Lent, but no real winner. I have given thought of abstaining form meat and going vegetarian. NOPE! This smells too much like me trying to stranglehold Jesus into granting me a hefty weight loss. I will keep Jesus off the scale and focus on the root of that battle. Lent is not the proper place for this one.
I have also thought about reading a novel a week. NOPE! This one is too lofty. I will start well get overrun with work and miserably fail and feel bad about the lack of commitment from within.
What about prayer in the mornings? NOPE! I have been down this road before. I am not too sure that God will be glorified from my half ass attempts to stay awake during prayer while I itch to check Facebook or my email.
I spent the last week unable to run as has become my habit. I miss running. It has become a place where I can commune with God and just be. I get lost in my mind and hang out with God. Running has become pray for me. It captures my entire being and elevates it so that I may be nearer God. I feel called to carry on this practice of running during Lent. To run during Lent with a renewed passion for the other and compassion swelling from within I enter into the presence of the Creator does well with my soul.
In our faith community we are engaging the Spiritual practice of “Re-membering” our community as we remember those from the past, present, and those to come. We are seeking to posture ourselves n the divine presence of our Creator as we shed boundaries and division of the physical realms. In this we seek to “remember that from dust we came and to dust we shall return.”
I also feel called to participate in “re-membering” and remembrance in my life inside and outside of my faith community. I am a product of many faith communities in many places. Inside I hold dear memories of places, space, times, and people that are distant and fading as well as places, spaces, times, and people that still carry physical proportions to them in my life.
I dearly miss having time to reflect upon these beautiful moments in my life. This Lent I hope to ponder people, places, and things that have been distant and clouded by worry, busy, and commodities. This Lenten season I will seek to uncover the beauty of those places, spaces, times, and people in my distant and not so distant future that have blessed me in my lifetime.
Perhaps you may take a moment to remember those places, spaces, times, and people in our life that have blessed you?