Lent has snuck up on me again. It starts tomorrow, and I find I am not in a state of mind to enter it contemplatively, even intentionally. Instead of Ash Wednesday, I have a committee meeting on my mind. Instead of a Lenten discipline, I’m contemplating a digital declutter and carb cutting. I need to drink more water. I need to read more. I need to exercise.
I didn’t grow up observing Lent (lots of Evangelicals don’t), so when I discovered it in my early 20’s I embraced it with vigor. The more demanding the discipline the better. I look back on those first penitential efforts with a combination of nostalgia and embarrassment now, because, yes, I was quite self-centered about it, imagining that the piety of a 23 year-old single guy was literally the most important thing there was, but those experiences also created grooves in my spirit and my memory that carried me into serious openness to vocational ministry.
It would be foolish to hold someone who is 42 to the same standard of devotion as their two-decades-earlier self. So I don’t. Instead of expecting Lent to be a six week course of intense devotion set apart from the rest of my life, I hope it infuses my entire life–work, parenting, husbanding, neighboring, self-caring–with more humility and penitence. I am hoping for new grooves, widely distributed.