Life piles up in laundry loads. The grime and dirt and stains so easily cling and must be dealt with on a regular basis.
There is one garment, though, that never seems to make it out of that crumpled heap at the bottom of the basket. It’s actually a beautiful piece that fits well and looks great. But it’s handle with care and hand wash only and who really ever has time for that?
Fasting in Lent is an emptying out of what usually fills. It is the invitation to take out what usually gets left behind to be dealt with at a more convenient time.
It is the opportunity to release the sweaty, creased, balled up mess I turn over and over in my hands, to the hands with the holes, who will hand wash and handle with care; whose intention is not to take away, but to refresh, redeem and restore to original beauty, so I am dressed and ready at the right moment.
“Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.”
Rend your hearts and not your garments.
Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.
Who knows? He may turn and relent and leave behind a blessing…
If Advent is about patience, Lent is about penitence.
Forty days led in the wilderness by the Spirit of God.
Forty days of fasting.
Forty days of curbing appetite and relinquishing addiction. Forty days of emptying out and letting go of things once held dear. Forty days to refocus eyes and heart and mind.
In the western hemisphere we are slowly emerging from the dark of winter; the traditional time for Spring cleaning. This is not the cram-everything-in-the-closet-and-hope-the-door-shuts kind of clean, but a bring-everything-out, sort-everything-through, thoroughly-attend-to-every-last-corner kind of clean.
Longer hours of sunshine reveal layers deep of dust and dirt. Nothing can be left untouched, all must be re-evaluated in this season of fresh light.
Forty days of soul-scouring.
Forty days of scrubbing away filthy stains left by my thoughts, words, actions.
No, not even in forty years or four hundred years would I be able to clean up my own self. The whole world does not contain bleach enough to blot out the ways I have transgressed.
All that Lent can offer is the opportunity to deny distractions and turn again toward the only One who can…
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin…
… create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.
It’s been on my mind for a few days, almost a week, this feeling that I need to take Lent seriously this year. I have never given up anything for it before, but I want to acknowledge the liturgical year, dig into it, relive and reinhabit this story that is my story.
I knew straight away what I needed to give up to make this season meaningful for me: facebook.
It’s interesting the range of reactions you get when you tell people you’re thinking about giving up facebook.
Oh I could never do that!
Yeah well, it’s just such a good way of keeping in touch
Good for you!
Are you crazy? Or selfish? Or crazy AND selfish?
Way to go!
I procrastinated for a while, wondering if I really could give up facebook for this long, if I really wanted to. I’ve deactivated before, but only because I chose to, and there was no set time period involved.
There were also two people in particular I was worried about keeping in touch with: my sister, way to the south of me in South Africa, and my best friend, way to the west of me in Minneapolis. However, both of them were really supportive of the idea.
So I’ve taken the plunge. I don’t think God would love me any less if I didn’t. I also think He won’t be mad if I end up failing at this. But I feel like He’s offering me the opportunity to let go for a while, of something that steals my time and often distracts my heart.
I’m kind of excited to see what the season will bring…
***I just read that my friend Emily is also giving up facebook for Lent. You can read her post here.***