The Journey of Lent
This month, we begin the journey of Lent, a season that calls to mind sinfulness, discipline, and self-denial — all the fun stuff!
Lent is designed to make us more mindful of God’s great love story. Lent is the chance to pause and rest and listen for God’s voice in the midst of a very loud, hectic world. Lent is meant to bring us closer to God. But if you’re like me, the solemnity of Lent doesn’t always seem to work. Sometimes, the quiet, the peace, the contemplation can become cumbersome instead.
I think it’s necessary for us to be honest about the way we experience God. For some, Lent is their favorite season of the year. There is something deeply fulfilling about the solemnity of the season that invites them to go deep and to meet God in the depth. For those who find Lent to be their favorite season, know that I’m a little jealous. In my head, I want to be the kind of person who responds well to the serious nature of Lent, to the contemplative spirit of the season, but I struggle to pay attention and to stay engaged. Chalk it up to my age or my personality, but if you know me at all, you know that “quiet” and “contemplative” aren’t words most people would use to describe me.
And yet, Lent does seem to work in mysterious ways. Perhaps Lent works because it makes us hungry and we know that the Easter banquet is weeks away. When I was a child, I loved to eat (some things never change). Just like my own children, I always wanted snacks in-between meals. Whenever it was close to dinner time and I wanted a snack, my father would always tell me that waiting would make dinner taste even better. Naturally, I would protest. That logic didn’t make any sense to someone who was hungry. But true enough, after spending an hour or two “starving,” I would finally get the food I was desperate for, and it always tasted better than I had imagined.
Maybe that’s why I don’t consider Lent my favorite season. I’m like so many of us — I simply don’t like to wait for what I want. But as we receive the ashes that mark us as dust and remind us that we will return to the dust once more, perhaps we can live in that quiet place long enough to appreciate that through Christ, God has conquered death forever. Death no longer has authority over us because God’s love has triumphed! I may not be terribly patient, but I bet a little quiet and some true contemplation will make the great joy of the resurrection, that festival of Easter, that much better.
The Reverend Chris Girata, Rector