Here we are again in Lent. Some years I dread it, but this year I find myself eager for the solemnity of Lent. Or perhaps it is the focus of it that I desire. I find it easy to be overwhelmed by the urgent and persistent (is there no end of email?) along with those distractions that lure and numb us in a too-busy world (looking at you, Instagram and Netflix).
Lent provides a pared-down schedule, offers clarity: devote some time each day to prayer, give away some money to someone who needs it, give up something in order to have that extra time and money. In other words, the classic triple disciplines of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.
Some years that formula seems, well, formulaic or arcane or overly simplistic.
This year it seems just right and, frankly, about all I can handle.
But imagine if we all did this, not as a way to “discipline” or punish ourselves but so that we grow closer to God, have space for quiet and prayer, let our anxieties and desires rest for a few weeks, and turn our focus out from ourselves toward others.
None of that will end the war in Ukraine, nor will it stop the climate catastrophe, nor will it dismantle systemic racism, and . . . well, you get the idea.
But wouldn’t the world feel and be a bit different? Wouldn’t you?
We would be returning to God and to God’s dream of Shalom and in that return, that rest in God, we might be nourished to live that dream in the world.