Wednesday, March 30, 2011

An Unusual Discipline

When I was preparing for Ash Wednesday, I came across an article "Seize the Day: Reimagining Ash Wednesday" by Bruce Epperly.
In the article, Epperly invites the reader to observe Lent as a time of living in each moment. I interpreted this for my own life and work a little more specifically: finding the joy in each moment. For many years, I have practiced the discipline of fasting during Lent--giving up a food or behavior or activity. Theologically, I had interpreted Lent as a time that would be hard and dreary and not fun. That was the point. Getting to Holy Week should not be a pleasant experience. A couple of years ago, a church member confessed to me, "I just love Lent. It is my favorite time." And I thought she was: A. nuts B. brown-nosing C. one of those people who gets pleasure from self-denial. Because Lent just isn't fun.
Well, I can say that this year's observance of Lent has not been fun, but it has been filled with good things. And an unusual discipline. Finding the joy in each moment. This has been a good and fitting discipline for me to search for green poking through the barren limbs of this season.
At the more than halfway point, I must say that it has been an experience of God unlike any other. It has been a good Lent. It has been a holy Lent.
I have engaged in aspects of my work that I typically avoid and dislike--because they make this introvert uncomfortable-- on a more regular basis--and I have found joy here .
I have used my hands to create something--another task I avoid for fear that spending this time doing this is frivolous. I have found satisfaction here .
I have reorganized parts of my life--a task I avoid because it all feels overwhelming--and I have found peace here.
I have purged my living and working spaces of the excess--a task I avoid because having the stuff and clutter around me feels less vulnerable--and I have found contentment here.
Seizing the Day, and loving Lent.

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