Day Eight: Learning Lent

I did not grow up within the United Methodist expression of the "Way of Jesus". Words like Advent, Lent, and Good Friday were reserved for my Catholic friends. I am not sure I saw anyone with ash on their forehead until I was 22 years old. This is my way of confessing my novice stature when it comes to Lent. I am still "getting it", or perhaps it is eventually "getting me.” I had heard people state (or complain) about giving something up for Lent. I wondered why they would do this. Why is Lent so painful? Along the way I have discovered that at least for me, Lent is a way for me to set aside what I have in abundance, so I can be more aware of the things in which I am impoverished. I am making more room within the space of my soul. I do find that the things which I have crammed into my life in great measure are not ultimately making me more like Jesus (or what might be as much God's intent, more like me). When I wonder why God seems so distant at times, 40 sunrises of Lent cause me to consider the things which may be stiff-arming God's approach on my life. My calendar, my anxiety, my stuff, my pride, my jealousy, my lack of contentment, my struggle for control and self-sufficiency, too often create God-proof bunkers wherein I am content to hide, hoping for a divine flare from the outside.

When I set aside part of my life during Lent I am more awake to the truly life-giving resources which I do not possess, the places of my poverty. I realize how much I lack God's voice in my life, and the restfulness of grateful contentment; the joy of seemingly small, but significantly holy moments. When it comes to these things I find that I have holes in my pockets, and a negative balance. I'm famished for these things. I am malnourished. It is during Lent that I cling to Jesus' words that those who hunger and thirst after righteousness will be filled. I used to think that those in this category were the most devout, always wanting righteousness. However, I have found that those who hunger and thirst after something do so because they are dying due to the lack of it. So, if I can stop gorging myself for 40 days on the empty calories of busyness, loudness, activity, more, and most, perhaps I can trade my beggar's bowl for a stomach full of peace, hope, love, joy, wonder, and promise….

—M. Dierdorff, March 13, 2019

Jay Horton