Our goal in observing Lent is not to earn favor with God by fasting and praying, but to allow us a season to reflect on the reality of sin and its effects and the need for repentance. We live in a world that is permeated with disease, with cancer and AIDS, with starvation and poverty. We see injustice and misery in one part of the world, and excess and luxury in another. We see ourselves in the mirror and know the sin that dwells in us, and it’s a reality from which we often want to look away.
The Gospel speaks to all of these realities – it speaks to the suffering in the world and promises the hope of resurrection and the hope of Jesus making all things new. It speaks to the evil in our hearts and condemns the sin to death, while freeing us from our condemnation. This is the hope we proclaim relentlessly.
Lent is not a season to deny hope, but rather to remind us why we need it. It’s a season when we observe the darkness around and within us in anticipation of celebrating the light and hope of Easter morning. We remember our death to prepare for the celebration of the promise of eternal life.
There’s a small corner where furniture is absent.
Four and a half palms in width between wall and table. Nestled at back edge.
The floor was bare – now the cubic space is draped with Kenyan cloth my friend carried home for me. One of her many homes. One of her many sharpening and shaping places. She brings me pieces and stories and makes me a part of it all somehow. That’s the awe fellowship brings: communication transforming boarders open and experiences shared.
This corner becomes my habitat. My Lenten dwelling where surrounding matters and the tightness of space focuses my heart on the smallness of me. Where I can stretch my legs out the one direction there is no wall, though I prefer to tuck into the confines, facing back or face on floor just breathing in the awareness that small me equals bigger Him and all I desire can be accomplished in that one fact.
It’s not always comfortable. I shift when I need and I turn when I want and I pray. Read. Pray. Read. Longing for more than just half hours or less, yet to take what I can when I can is accepting a gift in thanksgiving. Setting priorities in the time I do have where I am in no demand for other responsibilities…this is the discipline I want to learn. Not to perform robotically without heart and yearn.
For if I do not love, I am nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 teaches me much about the importance of love and the laughingly insufficient actions one can try without love. Devoting myself to Him is one of those grossly inane attempts unless I have the passion for Him stirring within my veins. He doesn’t ask for my hands – He asks for my whole self. The core of which – my heart, my soul. Without that, I’m hollow. He doesn’t need me to do anything for Him. He richly desires me to be His beloved, His daughter sharing in the inheritance of imperishable treasure. Anything He does through my hands is a mere gift for me to see His blessings and know Him more.
Not yet six practicing days of Lent and it feels natural. Not to say it isn’t difficult, this unraveling of the reconstructed veil I force over my eyes – preventing me from experiencing His radiant glory in fullest measure. Every day I want to notice something beautiful. A truth I keep avoiding. I ask for the breaking of my edges and the shoveling of my charred spaces and the basking Light to flood the rooms where I’ve shut away the lowly.
Poetry, song, Scripture has occupied my eyes’ scan these days. My heart brims with the beauty of emptying unabandon which one’s soul pours to its Designer. Another day I want to devote more time to the lyrics and stanza and beauty of written worship that has affected me particularly during this season.
Today will be full of other responsibilities and demands. I know there will be distractions and temptations and ways I will be caught off guard.
By His grace there is one more day to learn. I take it knowing I cannot meet its end without more of His mercy to complete it. So I will stretch flat in this fabric corner and bid His company remain.