I entered into Lent this year in a sick body, stressed mind, and overwhelmed schedule. I thought that perhaps trying to add one more obligation, that is, a Lenten discipline, would not be spiritually edifying but rather would just add more stress to my life. This morning, with my health returning, I am reconsidering that idea.
In my early 20s I began attending a church that followed the liturgical calendar and the lectionary. It was like a whole new world opened to me. There is something deep and rich and moving about taking part in the rhythm of the church year, participating in practices that have sustained the body of Christ for generations upon generations. I LOVE the seasons of the church year. And perhaps it isn't entirely coincidental that I discovered all this in New England, where the seasons of spring, fall, winter, and summer are distinct as well. I know that the liturgical calendar wasn't invented in New England, but it could have been. Advent, the season of darkness, seemed especially poignant when the sun set at 4pm. Lent lasted through the toughest part of winter, when the cold and wet appeared endless. Easter was a reminder that spring was indeed coming, if it hadn't already. The green of ordinary time could be seen all around in the glory of summer. While these seasonal changes can be harder to notice in Texas, I have now accustomed myself to the rhythm of the seasons, and I look forward to the revelations each year brings.
In my childhood church, anything that appeared remotely Catholic was discouraged, so all I knew about Lent was that it was something my Catholic friends did, and I judged them as hypocrites for having visible ashes on their foreheads and being open about their Lenten disciplines. After all, Jesus said to do our good deeds in private, right? My grandmother liked to refer to that idea while telling us, her family, about the good deeds she had secretly done. I never brought up that it was no longer a secret once she told us!I think there is something to sharing our intentions for spiritual growth. The electronic age sometimes makes it seem impersonal, but there is community here, both with people I know and, perhaps, some I do not.
So, this Lent, I am naming my 2 intentions:
1) Read the daily lectionary passages using this schedule, based on the Revised Common Lectionary.
2) Write a blog reflection twice a week. (I did not fulfill this intention, but I did take time to write and reflect every week)
My hope is that these practices will be life-giving and centering, and that they will help bring some focus and integration to my rather scattered life. May it be so.
If you are a Christian, what are your Lenten intentions this year? Blessings be upon you, dear friends, in whatever spiritual and physical season you find yourself.