Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Not so fast

I thought today was Ash Wednesday. My body needs a rest from all the rich food we've been eating, and Lent is a good time to combine mental and physical health with spiritual disciplines. Since Lent fell on Feb. 17 last year, I figured today was the day for this year. Nope, we have 3 weeks to go until the memorial days begin.

As a Protestant, I didn't grow up with Lenten observances. Our church fasted Good Friday with a special service in the morning and evening. I seem to remember most of them being rainy and blustery, appropriately yucky weather for the darkness of the remembrance. Easter, which was nearly always sunny, started with a Sunrise Service at the local cemetery and progressed through several church services into the evening.

But no Lent. When I studied for my Masters degree, I prayed Catholic and Orthodox prayers for a season, familiarizing myself with other Christian practices. I reveled in the richness and beauty as the Spirit breathed into the old traditions!

Lent came alive that year as I accepted a new discipline of daily Lenten writing. As I read through the scriptures, I posted observations to an initial list of 150 people (before blogging was popular). The list grew into my blog, first on a now-defunct site, then at xanga, now at

Some years I love writing, some years I dread the merciless demand of each new morning at the computer keyboard. As I read through those years, I marvel at God's faithfulness in opening scripture and allowing spiritual disciplines to shape my life. (Though today I'm glad I don't have to begin fasting nor daily writing because of a three-week reprieve.) 

I'm looking forward to meeting God again within the special attention that Lent offers, starting March 9 this year. I need the solitude, meditation, and examination more than ever, after the challenges of the past year. How about you? 

Read more:
*O LORD, be gracious to us; we long for you. Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress. Isaiah 33:2 NIV

*I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’S great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”

The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.

It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young. Let him sit alone in silence, for the LORD has laid it on him.  Let him bury his face in the dust—there may yet be hope.  Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him, and let him be filled with disgrace. For men are not cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love.  Lamentations 3:19-32 NIV

*Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Matthew 5:4 NIV

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