Lent starts in about 9 hours (as the clock ticks, anyway.) I just found space for the last box of Christmas stuff and it’s Lent. Already? I’m not sure how that happened!
I’ve become more aware of the beauty of the Church calendar over the last several years. Lent was not a consistent spiritual practice in my growing up years. Our church followed the liturgical calendar, but it was a natural flow, like breathing to me. I never had a sense that it was even remotely theological in its constructs.
My understanding was simple. Church… was. God… is. Jesus… lives. (Not a bad start!)
There probably WAS teaching about Lent and the other seasons of the Church year, but my kid-mind did not absorb it. I did manage to pick up on things like baptism, communion, tithing, service, and the Bible. (So my apologies to the good people who invested all that time and energy. I am sure the lack of learning was on the part of the student, not the teacher!)
I mentioned in a previous post about the Lenten disciplines I’m going to attempt to follow. I’ll be following the prompts from Rachel Hackenberg and responding to most of those off-blog because if I’m going to be real, they will probably be “Spiritual TMI.” Not every spiritual reflection and struggle is for public consumption, you know. 😉
As I read over Rachel’s prompt regarding preparation for Lent, I found that her preparatory exercise was really helpful, and thought that some of you might appreciate it, too.
Today’s prayer-writing prompt reflects on Isaiah 40:18-23 in preparation for Lent:
“To whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compare with him? An idol? A workman casts it, and a goldsmith overlays it with gold and casts it for silver chains. As a gift, one chooses mulberry wood, then seeks out a skilled artisan to set up an image that will not topple. Have you not known? Have you not heard? It is the LORD who sits above the circle of the earth, who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, who brings princes to naught.” (adapted from the NRSV)
What idols — of precious metal, of wood, or perhaps of routine, of pride, of fear — do you need to acknowledge and set aside in preparation for walking closer with God in Lent? With pen in hand, approach God candidly in prayer and put your idols in perspective.
The image that has been consistently been coming to mind as I think about Lent is that of a wilderness journey. I am not alone, and I’m not lost. But there is a sense of “traveling” and covering territory. I’ve got a hike ahead of me… and some of it may become quite rugged.
This blessing by Jan Richardson, author of In the Sanctuary of Women starts me on my way:
May the One who dwells
in every landscape
divest you of all that hinders
your path in God.
Here’s to putting on my Lenten traveling shoes…