Thursday, March 10, 2011

My thoughts on Lent and other ramblings

I hate Lent.

I really have to be honest about that.  This week I've received lots of emails encouraging me to "press in" during this season.  I've also read the blogs out there.  (This is NOT a dig on those honest, sincere pieces of encouragement coming my way - this is just a very real post about how I feel about it all.  Please hear my heart.)

I'm not entirely sure why I dislike this season so much.  I absolutely love operating in seasons (one of the things I like about the Episcopal church).  And I love Advent and Epiphany, both seasons of expectation now that I think about it.  I don't dislike Lent for the obvious reason - because it's a time of sacrifice, repentance, self-examination in the hard-look kind of way.  Nope, I think it's because it feels religious to me.  Out of all the seasons in the Church calendar, why do we practice this one together?  Why do we make a big tado about it?

So, the paradox...I enjoy, and I understand the need for, setting aside seasons to focus on certain aspects of walking with Christ.  I also get the need to walk in community, to celebrate together ("celebrate" in the liturgical sense of the word).  And yet I resist the pomp and circumstance surrounding the season of Lent.  I don't like talking about it at church or on blogs or in email.  It even felt weird yesterday when I took my kids to Ash Wednesday service for the first time.  It felt way too public, exposed.  I wanted to be in a dark room lit by candles alone yet somehow able to still hear the sermon and participate in the Liturgy.  And, if there were other people with me in this made-up room in my mind, I'd want them to exist in shadow, on the edge of my vision, not really seen.

Maybe it's because Christ's forty days in the desert feel like his most solitary.  Out of all other moments in His life and ministry, this is the time He withdrew the longest and walked the most alone (I'm not a Biblical scholar - this is just what I think to be accurate).  I need Lent to be inward.  I need it to be a season I walk alone.  On Easter, I want to come forth, reborn from the ashes of Ash Wednesday and my forty days, and share what I have learned, giving and receiving encouragement in the Body at that point, but not before.  Before, I need the process to be mine alone. 

I don't know if that's selfish, superior, or just plain wrong.  Honestly, I don't think my perspective or emotions on Lent need to be that big of a deal.  I'm only writing this because I wanted to put a different voice out there (exactly contrary to the paragraph I just wrote above...hmm, I am full of contradictions, aren't I?). 

I hope this doesn't offend anyone.  This is just one way I feel about one aspect of the faith.  It doesn't represent my complete Christian identity.

Other ramblings...

I'm well into Chapter Four of my first novel.  Thank you again to all who are praying for me as I write.  I have felt so much grace since my writing retreat - more than I've ever felt in my life.  I know it's because ya'll are praying and He is listening!  Thank you!

I've been reflecting a lot lately on debt.  Have any of you done Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University?  Thoughts?

I'm also thinking about what it means to keep giving when I have nothing left to give.  What it means to truly, deeply believe that God will live in that place of emptiness and give me what I need, take care of me, provide for me.  More on that later, I'm sure.

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