I need to hit the ground running for Lent. I know that sounds like the opposite of Lent. Lent is not to be run through but walked through slowly as if we are on retreat the whole time, in our jobs, homes and families ... with friends at dinner. But I need to start on Lent before it gets here - to already be reminding myself of Holy Presence in all things, to be getting up a bit earlier, to know what I want to read during this time ... to be prepared. Otherwise, the opportunity of Lent gets reduced to getting myself to church more often. Thankfully, this year, I felt the need to prepare - to make myself available to our journey with Christ.
And I am feeling ready - or as ready as I can be. Through the links of another Key Voice blogger, Kimberly Knight, I learned about the book Claiming the Beatitudes by Anne Sutherland Howard - a book about "transformational wisdom for church". So I have my reading ready to go. And I hate to say it but I have come up with a theme. And, to make it worse (because it is all over the place right now), my theme is Eat, Pray, Love. Not the book itself... the book is not my theme but that trinity of eating, praying, loving. So here are my intentions for Lent - which I have already started so I have some practice.
It is my intention to eat with awareness of what I am eating and why. It is my hope that this awareness will help me be more in sync with the real needs of my body. I don't want to do this in order to emerge from Lent with chip on my shoulder about my willpower. Rather I want to be aware of how many people struggle to be deeply feed and use food as a substitute (company included). I want to remain aware and respond each week to the needs of people without food, in Haiti, in the Congo, in my town of Brooklyn. I want to both feed and be fed.
And, it is my intention to bring my prayer more deeply into my heart, to be more vulnerable with our living Host. As Gerald May says when describing prayer, "It involves a gentle, steady and wakeful willingness to let ourselves be just who we are before God and to let God be just how God will be within us." For me, this does require more discipline so that my time In prayer is not 2 minutes in the morning but that I allow for 15, 20, 30 minutes of quiet time with God each day.
And, as we know from St Paul, none of these good ideas matter without love. Big love - the kind that allows me to give up being annoyed, to give up proving that I do a good job, and to give my attention, skill, resources, and time as needed in the moment, to be present and available.
I know that I will fail often (daily I am sure) at these intentions. And don't get me wrong, that is disappointing! Part of me would love to come out of Lent: thin, well read, well liked, and loved by God. But what I am promised -- we are promised -- and what a deeper part of me hopes for with a passion unmatched, is that I will learn again, and more deeply, that being loved by God is the ground which we stand on and the hope we move out from. This is my intention for Lent - to participate in the Kingdom of God as mindfully as I can while eating, praying and loving. May your Lent be blessed and a source of grounding and giving for you.