Wednesday, February 22, 2012


: the 40 weekdays from Ash Wednesday to Easter observed by the Roman Catholic, Eastern, and some Protestant churches as a period of penitence and fasting

A 2011 Lenten Journey Remembrance

It may sound strange, but I've decided Lent may be my favorite season - even more so than Advent, which I dearly love.  Here's what I like about Lent: the hope it brings. 

I'm not big on New Year's resolutions, but Lenten vows are another thing.  The big difference?  Resolutions feel like they're about my own strength.  To do a resolution the right way, I feel like I need to assess my life, see what's lacking and then make the necessary changes.  All of which is easier said than done and all of which comes from me.

Lent, on the other hand, is not about me.  Lent is about asking God what my life needs more or less of and being willing to trust that He is right.  Lent is about saying "I will try," not "I will do this."  Lent is about listening, not talking.  Waiting, not pushing ahead.  It feels more transformative than New Year's resolutions.  I have lived long enough to know that I can't truly change myself.  I may be able to change my behavior for a period of time, but I can't ever truly change who I am.  Not only can I not change myself, it's painful to try.  It feels like a rejection of my own heart.

I awoke this morning hopeful and anticipatory.  Hopeful that I can do what I've committed to doing.  Anticipating that God will show up whether I succeed or fail in running or walking every morning for 40 days.  Lent is not about quid pro quo.  God is not saying, "Shannon, if you will walk or run every morning for Lent, I will bless you."  It's more like, "Shannon, I have something I'd like to give you.  Will you get up a little early to receive it?"

I think it's beautiful and meaningful that the Lenten season immediately precedes Ordinary Time in the church calendar.  A Lenten discipline is not about me powering and pushing through 40 days, only to return to exactly the way I was living my life before Lent.  Instead it's about a slow and gradual transformation that leaves me unable and unwilling to go back to the way I was because I will find the very idea undesirable.

In a few moments, A, B and I will head out the door for our Ash Wednesday service.  While there, ashes made from the palms waved on Palm Sunday last year will be smeared on our foreheads in the shape of a cross.  Even our praises are sacrifice, but Lent is about Jesus telling us that the sacrifice was, and will always be, worth it. 

May the myriad blessing of Lent rain upon you, watering your soul and growing good things in your heart.

2012 Lenten Journal

Pages waiting to be filled

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