As the month of March begins, we are a couple of weeks into the season of Lent. On the Christian calendar, that is. It could be just March, or late winter. Some mark time by the approach of the equinox. However you mark time, this is a season of change. We notice the earlier light in the morning, the lingering twilight at suppertime. I anticipate the arrival of “daylight savings time” with some annoyance because it will steal the lovely early morning light for a few weeks. Soon more birds will be returning and we’ll hear their morning songs.
Every day is the same. Each has 24 hours, as we have defined them. We wake, we move through our day with more or less purpose. We sleep. And every day is different. The light is different. The landscape changes with the seasons. We are different with each passing year. In every day, there is something to notice if we are awake and paying attention.
The Christian practice of Lent is a custom. It is one way of adopting a discipline that may help me pay attention to life, to the movement of the spirit, to how God shows up. But every day, all year around, is full of things to notice, full of opportunities to open myself to God, to life, to neighbor, to love.
The disciplines of Lent are not ends in themselves. They are tools, methods, vehicles that can help to put us in touch with life beyond ourselves, and with life within us. The goal of spiritual life is the unity for which Jesus prayed for his disciples. God invites us to make peace with ourselves, to know ourselves as beloved, to be reconciled to each other, and to find ourselves as we realize we are a part of a greater whole. That’s what Paul is referring to as he write of finding ourselves “in Christ.”
I don’t invite you to “give up” something for Lent. I invite you to notice. Anything. Everything is part of God’s creation. And God is present to us in everything if we are willing to pay attention. Lent is part of the rhythm of a spiritual cycle that is mapped out from Advent through Ordinary Time. It is one particular instance of a bigger pattern that we are invited to notice. Christ in you. You in Christ. All of us in the end made one.
You will find practices and disciplines that work for you. Those may change over the years. Devotional reading. Quiet meditation. Yoga. A morning walk. A holy conversation. Find what helps you notice God, and notice the rest of creation. Our faith is centered in the idea that “the Word became flesh and lived among us.” Ours is an incarnational spirituality. That is, God is revealed not in ideas and abstractions, but in matter, in flesh.
So I pray that in the dayliness of life, you will notice God, and be drawn closer to yourself and to the rest of creation.
A blessed Lent to you,