Sunday, March 18, 2012



Lent has just passed the half-way mark.  I would have thought by now that I'd have a better understanding of exactly what my Lenten vow is about and why I am doing this.  I was surprised when I prayed about a direction for Lent and heard the response that I should walk or run every day for 40 days.  I hesitated.  To my ears, this sounded more New Year's Resolution than Lenten vow.  But I continued to feel this was the direction, no matter how much I threw up question marks.  So I began. I thought when I began that I would eventually understand the reason I was pointed in this direction.  I assumed if I just kept walking, I'd see the destination ahead of me sooner or later.

I've learned a few things about myself so far:
  1. I am more inclined to give myself grace and walk more, run less when I am doing it every day.  I see this time as less about the workout than the discipline of doing it.  So if I only run 10 minutes one day instead of 20, I'll think, "Well, I'll be out here tomorrow morning.  I can just run 10 more minutes then."  I'm not sure whether this is a good or a bad trait of mine.  It's just what I've observed.
  2. Our mornings have a different feel to them when I am up and out the door by 6:15 and back by 6:45 or 7:00.  K is often up and dressing by the time I get back, but even if she's not, I have time to wake her and point her in the right direction with less rush and intensity.
  3. I am not finding this easier as the time wears on.  Do I enjoy the time?  Yes, I honestly do.  But I miss sleeping in.  I miss having the energy to stay up past 10 in the evening and I found out Thursday morning that I don't do well without a bit of accountability.  That was the first morning that J was out of town and I woke with a sore throat, which I used as an excuse to not get out of bed.  I regretted it all day.

Yet if I am completely honest with myself, I might have learned more from that one morning of failure than I have from all the previous mornings of obedience.  I learned that I miss my morning walk when I don't take it.  Thursday I felt the absence of having that time alone, that time to listen to God and wake up slowly.  I was distracted, less at peace and more hurried. 

I shared with a friend via e-mail that I didn't walk Thursday morning.  Here's part of what she wrote back:
I also want to say about you not walking/running yesterday? I get it. I am beginning to think Lent is really about realizing how weak we are and then in that space of us seeing "failure" or our weakness God brings new life... I heard you say you broke your Lenten vow. But I think God uses Lent to break us and then in those freshly exposed spaces show us in whole new ways how beautiful, how loved, how valiant we are.
I needed to hear those words.  I needed to hear that even my failure was part of what I am supposed to learn this Lent.  As I walked this morning, I pondered the difference between being broken open and being broken.  I am definitely broken, but I've realized lately how much time and energy I spend protecting myself.  What might happen if I left the broken places cracked open and exposed instead of trying to plaster them over and move on?

I also needed to read the words of Richard Rohr last night as I finished reading Everything Belongs:

[W]e have to allow ourselves to be drawn into sacred space, into liminality.  All transformation takes place there.  We have to move out of "business as usual" and remain on the threshold (limen, in Latin) where we are betwixt and between.  There, the old world is left behind, but we're not sure of the new one yet.  That's a good space.  Get there often and stay as long as you can by whatever means possible.
I've struggled to explain why I feel it is a part of my Lenten experience for the walking or running to be done first thing in the morning.  My schedule has some flexibility.  I could run in the evenings after J gets home.  Or go for a walk with A and B during the day.  But I've felt in my heart like that wasn't exactly the right direction.  The passage above was like a light bulb.  Morning walks are walks in liminal space.  I'm betwixt and between sleep and wakefulness and able to hear clearly, before putting on my daily armor for the world.  I'm more vulnerable, fresher, ready to listen - and far less inclined to talk.  If prayer is about being quiet and waiting to hear from God instead of throwing requests his way, my morning walks are definitely more like that.  Often, I can't even think very clearly until I've been outside moving for 5 or 10 minutes.

Bit by bit, I've seen a few things about my Lent with more clarity over the last few days.  Going forward, I hope to embrace my failure(s) and live as much as possible in the space where I am listening expectantly.

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