Lent

Cracked mud

Lent is a season for reflection and returning to God. Beginning on Ash Wednesday, Lent extends for six weeks and ends in Holy Week, the week before Easter. In some traditions, Lent ends on the eve of Maundy Thursday, the Thursday before Easter. Other traditions end Lent on the evening before Easter Sunday.

During Lent, some churches remain open on Fridays for prayer and walking the Stations of the Cross.

(Cracked mud icon image for Lent courtesy of Keith Vertanen.)

Lenten Longing

The Source of All LongingLonging for connection.
Longing to be not alone.
Longing for what makes life whole.

Longing for love.
Longing for God.

And God’s longing back,
longing for all creation,
for every atom of being.

Longing for love.
Longing for me.

Return, O my soul, to your rest…
— Psalm 116: 7a

How could the soul not take flight
When from the glorious Presence
A soft call flows sweet as honey, comes right up to her
And whispers, “Rise up now, come away.”
— From “Hurry to the Source of Life,” by Rumi.

Thoughts on a Practice for Lent

Luke 4: 1 – 4
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished.

The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread. Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.’ ”

Satan tempts the physically-starved Jesus to turn stones into bread.

In refusing, Jesus quotes a passage from Hebrew scripture that goes on to say what does sustain life, “one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Deuteronomy 8:3b). The verse refers back to the time the Hebrew people spent in the wilderness after fleeing Egypt, completely dependent on acts of God for their most basic needs.

For some reason, the story of Jesus being tempted to fill his empty belly by turning stones into bread makes me think of times I’m tempted fill my empty soul with comfort food for the body. With chocolate, for example. Or alcohol, or sex.

Which can work just fine. When I’m lost in the shadows, a rich, dark truffle might be just the thing to pull me back into the light. And under the right circumstances, ‘making love’ can truly live up to its name.

For me, the trouble starts somewhere in a long, slow, nearly-imperceptible slide from intentional joy into mindless habit, until finally I’m in a rut, feeding spiritual hunger with stones instead of bread, not even aware anymore of a part of me that’s starving to death.

Which makes me think of the many classic Lenten practices having to do with habits – with breaking set rhythms in eating and drinking, shaking one’s body out of its ruts to stand up on the high plain again, see the wide horizon, feel the wind blow, take a step on a new path.

Walking For Lent

One February, I was awash—at times near drowning—in work with text, text, and more text. So for my Lenten practice that year, I decided not to take on any additional study. Instead, I cleaned out my refrigerator, took regular walks, and kept my eyes open for interesting natural objects to pick up and bring home.

You can see the results here on the Easter page.

“Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart…” Joel 2:12a