Lent is here. Blah, blah, blah.
Lent always screws with my need for other things. As spring is getting sprung, all I want to do is burn my winter coat and lay in the grass. I want to take 4 days off work and watch basketball in my underwear. I want to go to Daytona Beach, which I never did in college. I just don’t want to give up stuff and try to get deeper with God.
I know I should. I should be enthusiastically cannonballing into the ashes. I should be emptying my cupboards Temple-cleansing-style. I should be dusting off the kneepads for the hours I’ll be spending in prayer. I should be laughing at the devil for all the ways I’ll be kicking his behind for the next 40 days.
In college, I fell in love with the empty chapel in spring. I loved the sunlight, the hardwood pews, the emptiness. I loved thinking that I was the only one doing Lent in the whole school. It’s like me and God had a little secret. I loved that the ashes on my head freaked out my g-friend. I loved entering the faith as a newbie and taking it seriously.
Now, it’s a little old hat. I understand the need for discipline. I mean, my car’s a mess and it drives me crazy. A little discipline would free me from the tyranny of garbage in the car, right? Moreover, I study the Bible all the time, do I really need more?
At the same time, 95% of my parishioners skip over Lent like their walking on water to escape the fire. For Lent, they give up the same thing they gave up for New Year’s resolution. Their schedule this week is Fat Tuesday, Ash Wednesday and Business-as-Usual Thursday. They’re giving up ‘giving up’ for Lent. Wake me when it’s Easter.
Wait, I’m giving the wrong impression. My apathy is not their fault. I do this well enough on my own. But now, I’m responsible for ‘selling’ the good of Lent, the need for us to go a bit inward. And yet, my own inward being needs a power wash. Our righteousness is indeed like filthy rags.
Wait, I’m giving the wrong impression. Sure, my righteousness is tattered, but it keeps me clothed well enough. I don’t even feel all that bad for my sins most of the time. I chalk it up to humanity. I try to do better. I grant myself grace. At lonely times in my life “my sins are all I have“.
This year, I’m not giving up Lent for Lent. But I am giving up seriousness. I think that I’ve gotten caught up in the disciplines of Lent that I lost track of the grace therein. “Rend your hearts, not your clothes.” It used to be life-giving…and it should still be.
[For all the things that I am learning, there are things that I used to know that I have since forgotten. Thus we need young leaders in the church to remind us of those things that we have forgotten or gotten away from.]
So my list includes several fun things: writing, playing guitar and reading. I still want to get close to God, if only to remember how we used to sit together in that empty, sun-drenched chapel so many years ago.
Image: Memorial Chapel at King College