As we finish the first full week of Lent, I hope that your intentions for this season, such as fasting, study, and prayer are taking hold and propelling you into a different spiritual place. Last week I advised taking some time to rest as we entered the season. We needed some time to clear our heads and hearts in order to get the most out of our Lenten disciplines. Now, like a hiker after a few days on the trail, we hope to be hitting our stride. What if we aren’t, then what do we do?
It may be that we needed more rest and more time for clearing our head. These past months have not been easy for anyone. The pall of the pandemic hangs over our heads. The newscasts with the daily and cumulative death tolls weighs us down. The illnesses of loved ones raise concern. The fear of catching the virus ourselves heightens our anxiety. That is just the pandemic.
This country and the world seem to be living through a liminal time. We are leaving something old and familiar behind and headed into something unknown. Even if the promise of the future is one of greater equality and justice for all, what do we have to give up to get there. We don’t know. We are hopeful, but even good change creates anxiety.
Lent is so important in times like these. Lent is a time of returning to God. The still small voice of God does not add another boom of burden and responsibility. Rather, like the comforting embrace of a mother, God soothes our hurts and pains. When we settle ourselves into God through prayer, meditation, or simple silence we can give up our worries and fears and place them in God’s care. There is nothing magical to this, it is like handing over a heavy package for another to handle. We feel lighter. We breathe easier. We stand straighter. We find our minds cleared.
I suggested giving up twenty minutes of screen time in exchange for twenty minutes of silence, meditation, or prayer as a Lenten discipline. This time of year one can easily sit at the window or even outdoors and contemplate nature. We can notice the trees budding, the daffodils peeking through the dead leaves or ice, the songs of birds as they return, the new slant to the sun, the whisper of clouds in the sky, and much more. The time spent in peace instead of in front of a screen will be restorative. Over the course of days you will find it easier to do and the rewards will be accumulating.
Perhaps instead of striding into Lent, we can sit our way into it. Perhaps the disciplines we set our sights on are not nearly as important as claiming peace and silence for our nourishment. Our good intentions may have revealed a deeper need to just be, rather than doing one more thing. Settle into being, it may be the most important journey you take this year.