Traditionally, Lent is the 40 day wake-up call for Christians to “get right” with God before participating in the miracle of Easter. Lent is symbolic for the 40 days that Jesus spent in the desert, both entertained by the devil and the angel, in preparation for his divine mission on earth. Following in Jesus’ footsteps, Lent offers us the opportunity to face our demons (anything that is getting in the way of our relationship with God) and discover more of the Divine presence in our lives. Many subscribe to the early church’s lenten disciplines of fasting, prayer, penance, and self-denial. No wonder some call it the “desert times.” And yet, Lent does encourage the faith-seeking to take stock of the “prickly” parts of our lives. You know them well: pent-up anger and resentments, anxiety, jealousy, greed, self-absorption, and the earthly crutches of alcohol, food, work, exercise…anything that takes our focus away from God and keeps us from being the best version of ourselves.
It’s time to clean our inner house, step into our own private confessional, make amends, unburden our souls, do whatever needs doing in order to truly experience the joy of Easter morning.
I have found that it is in the “desert seasons” of our lives, when the thread of our faith and connection to God begins to unravel, that we must stop and listen. We must ignore, even silence the devil’s musings from the secular world, and instead listen for the rustling of angels, or rather, the whisperings of God. This Lent, invite some quiet moments into your life where God has a chance of reaching you. Take a walk in nature, rediscover the gospel stories of Jesus’ own walk of faith, read one of my favorite Lenten books, Show Me the Way by Henri Nouwen, anything that will get you to listen to whatever God is trying to say in your life. There is much hope and inspiration to be found in the desert. Jesus sure found it!
Although Lent is often focused on”giving up” luxuries like chocolate, alcohol, and TV, I am more drawn to the discipline of “taking on” things that will nourish the mind, body, and soul. I am looking for nudges of grace to keep me moving forward in this often dark and unpredictable world, anything that will inspire me to live in hope. In this spirit, I would like to recommend a book that I promise will be “Bread and Honey” for your soul during this Lenten season!
As many of you know, I am a huge fan of Henri Nouwen. He was a Catholic priest, theology professor at Yale and Harvard, and an author of over 40 books. His book, Show Me the Way, is a Lenten handbook of 40 reflections beginning with Ash Wednesday and ending on Easter Sunday. They are short, thoughtful, and promise to stimulate and nourish the mind and the heart.
Live in Hope,