Lent, Lent, I love Lent. I’m absolutely, positively wild about Lent… *sung to the tune of Skidamarink a dinky dink*
Yes, if you know me at all or have followed my blog then you know how much I love the quiet simplicity of Lent. I generally take on a positive practice in my life (which necessitates giving up other, time consuming activities) as a way of marking the season. We walk the forty days of Jesus’ wilderness trials with our own period of introspection. I wrote more theologically about it last year
. This year, however, I am writing more practically about it.
I was having a hard time thinking about what I should do for Lent this year. I like to do something that will be truly challenging and will yield positive long-term results. One year I took on reading daily (which necessitated giving up television) for the 40 days and to this day I read more than I watch TV. Last year I practiced the Ignatian Examen –and lead a group at church in that practice (which necessitated giving up Facebook) and I am still more mindful about the events of my day and where God has met me therein (my Facebook addiction continues; but that is the subject for another post.) So to chose a practice for this year I asked: What trials am I facing and what can I do to meet those challenges head-on?
– Saying healthy goodbyes: to the places and people who have loved and supported me these last 3 years of seminary
– Preparing to transition into my professional vocation as an ordained minister in God’s church (gulp… no pressure there.)
– Actually writing the thesis on the topic I have prayed, contemplated, and struggled with for the past 8 years.
– Finding a place to live before it is time to leave the security of the dorms.
– Being still, and knowing that God is God.
– Celebrating the successes in my life and not being caught up in the worries.
I have to admit: identifying the trials was a lot easier than figuring out what I can do about them. As I sat and considered these things I got ridiculously stressed out because my living space is in such chaos right now. I did a good job at the beginning of the year keeping stuff organized, but just before Christmas (around the time of the GOEs, job interviews, and the “final” semester) a figurative bomb went off and my room has not been a calming space since. –For those of you with families, please know that I realize how much more difficult it is for you to keep your stuff straight while also organizing your spouse/partner/children’s things. I commend you.—But I have only myself to deal with, and trust me, I am a hot mess.
So I have decided to adopt the daily discipline of tidying my space. This may sound simple. You are probably thinking: “She should be doing that anyway; this is not a discipline it is a copout.” But I assure you, it is not. Yes, in an ideal world I would be able to keep my chaos from affecting my living space; but I can’t. My room is a reflection of my current emotional space and I intend to use this Lenten period of reflection as an experiment to see if daily tidying of my exterior space can simultaneously offer me the opportunity for daily prayer and reflection –a form of bodily prayer, really—that will result in an internal restructuring, re-centering, and calming practice.
I will have to give some things up to make this a reality. I will not have the same amount of time to devote to stress. (Trust me, this is a huge sacrifice. I spend a LOT of time worrying.) I will not have the same amount of time to devote to Facebook or other tools of procrastination that generally result in an increase of worry. It is my hope that this exterior/interior restructuring can result in a calmer presence as I prepare to end my time in seminary and begin my ordained ministry.
“Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished.
” Luke 4:1-2
Dear God, I pray that we may also be filled with the Holy Spirit and led by Her through this time in the wilderness. Guide our footsteps and guard our hearts as we prepare to enter this time of Holy introspection. Use it to strengthen our faith and to turn our eye towards You. Amen.