Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Why I love Lent: Reason # 426

Because it is like having a 40 day retreat in the middle of your real life.

Am I nuts that I love Lent? Is it crazy to look forward to a penitential season that is designed to purify us? Perhaps. But somehow I have grown to love the quiet, simple, introspective time. I like that, unlike Advent, I never feel like I am wandering the desert alone. Instead, I feel like it is hard core one on one time with Jesus. He kind of coaches me through it.

I like giving stuff up. It always hard and I inevitably do it imperfectly, which helps me remember that striving for perfection is a form of spiritual hubris. Only God is perfect. My failure forces me to rely on God. At first, that seemed ironic, that I would ask God to help me with something that was meant to be a gift to him. But in the end, I realized that my asking him for help probably was the gift he most wanted.

I like that the material world takes a back seat to the spiritual. Emotions are close to the surface. Things take on a new significance. The world seems full of signs and wonders.

I don't feel lack. To me, being off in the desert with my Beloved never feels like sacrifice or punishment. It's emptiness is more a privilege. A joy. A gift. Even when it is painful and difficult.

This year, I haven't thought about what I will give up to God. I have already put down sugar and, for the most part, booze. I don't smoke. Maybe I should try giving up cussing! And I am going to read the New Testament. And abstain from meat on Fridays. All of these little intrusions into my day to day life will serve as reminders that I live for God. That I want to offer everything to him. That life in him is the greatest joy of all.

I love Lent.

So tell me, dear readers, what are you doing for Lent this year?


Antony said...

Great thoughts here. I love lent too (and for the same reasons), so I'm as nuts as you, I guess. I haven't even had time to think about Lent yet, but I'll come up with something, I'm sure. :)


juniper68 said...

still thinking and praying on that question. thanks for helping me move it to the front burner.

Abbey of the Arts said...

Hi Rachel, I appreciate the early prompt to consider this. I love Lent as well, it has such depth and potential for real transformation. I am still praying with this. I gave a homily last year at my church on Ash Wednesday as a call to lament, I'll probably re-print it on my blog for this year. I may need to go back to that commitment especially since we are still at war. Blessings to you! Christine

Judith said...

Hi Rachel,

Lent is also my favorite liturgical season! I start anticipating it around New Year. I like the fact the we go through Lent not only with the hope of Easter, but also of spring. Those go hand-in-hand for me. I don't give up much -- but I do try to add things on. Extra prayers. Attendance at extra services. More quiet time. Lead on, sister!


Widening Circles said...

I love Lent, too. I love the focused spirituality of it, and I also have many warm childhood memories of Lent. (My brother-in-law who is Muslim says he feels the same way about Ramadan.)

In recent years I have concentrated on keeping a regular prayer routine or applied myself to some area of my life that needed improving. This year I may go back to giving something up. My Advent was about silence and stillness and getting back in touch with my deepest longings, and I still feel a need to keep stripping away nonessentials and get in touch again with what really matters.

Natalia said...

Hey Rachel,
Pulling out weeds so flowers can grow is hard work. I did it for an entire week on the dips of the Cumberland Trail. My prayers are with you during this time and during Lent. I am hoping to give up (now and throughout Lent) the self-centered notion that God does not already know me, and that I am too wounded to be there for others. God graces us with so many gifts!

Mary Beth said...

Wow. Did I ever need to read this! I have not thought about it like this before but I, also, love Lent. It is a wonderful, peaceful, reflective time. Last year's Holy Week was extra tough because of the music we were preparing and my emotional connection with it...but I think that's not necessarily a bad thing.

This year my church is sponsoring a series of Lenten talks and suppers. I am very much looking forward to those. Now that you have brought it up (and I thank you for that!) I am also prayerfully considering a Lenten discipline.

In the past I have ADDED something (prayer time, etc.) rather than GIVING UP something (chocolate or something like that). Pondering what I might add.

Anonymous said...

I really admire all of you folks for your eagerness for Lent.

And I envy you, Rachel, and those of who find joy and delight in self-denial.
In the past, I've given up Miracle-Whip, second helpings, science fiction books, desserts, naps, and making jokes.
I've TAKEN UP extra prayer time, daily stations of the cross, writing a letter each day, going to bed early.
This Lent? It's not Shrove Tuesday at 11 PM yet, is it?

Rachel's Big Dunk said...

I love all your comments, you guys! And to my anonymous friend. (Who, in real life, isn't anonymous) the 11 pm on Shrove Tuesday comment made me laugh!

revabi said...

Nah, you are not crazy, just in love with the right person, Jesus, and Lent brings us closer to him. I wrote about this in my church newsletter article. You made me consider posting it.

Rachel's Big Dunk said...

Yeah, Rebabi!!! Post it!



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