There is nothing like technology woes to kick off Lent. It’s aggravating, humbling and halts you in your tracks. When the personal computer doesn't work, ain't nothing works, you know?
Thanks to my entrepreneurial-pastor’s-spouse-extraordinaire who oh-so-lovingly pauses what he's doing to look into the issue. It’s not entirely solved as of yet - but because of Jeremy I do have a working laptop from which to send these Lenten thoughts into the World Wide Web. Whew.
Lent is an Old English word for Spring also related to the Dutch word meaning “lengthening days.” In the history of Christianity, Lent has been a season set aside for the 40 days + 6 Sundays leading up to Easter.
Lent is like a yearly chapter set aside to take stock. To reflect on the undertow in the world’s current. To reevaluate our relationships and our shared humanity. To return to our Center, our Source, our Light and Pathway through this one wild, sometimes confusing, sometimes painful, sometimes exquisitely delightful life we’ve been given.
Like when technology goes wrong, Lent is aggravating, humbling and halts you in your tracks… One of my all time favorite musicians, Ryan O’Neal, whose artistic moniker is “Sleeping At Last” wrote his first Christmas song, “Snow”. A powerfully crafted poetic phrase of the song arrests me every time: “life without revision will silence our souls.”
Lent is the part of the year where we refuse to let our souls be silenced.
We pause, we look from a different angle, we get still and quiet and a bit somber and we do the work our soul is calling for: we remember our beginning, we take stock of our middle and we anticipate our ending. Sound a little morbid? Maybe. But life contains morbidity. So why not take some time to pay attention, to change it up for 40 or so days and attempt to re-orient our lives in such a way that our souls (read here: our whole selves; we're not disembodied souls) are back in alignment with our Source. When the our whole selves ain't workin', ain’t nothing works, am I right?
There are thousands of ways to engage with Lent. Some people abstain, some refrain, some confess. Some serve, some create, some add.
Last year the beautiful Pope Francis suggested we give up indifference for Lent. That’s right calloused, inhumane indifference: “whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades.” He continues that, “We end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own.”
Christopher Hale reflected profoundly on this Lenten abstinence from indifference:
“But when we fast from this indifference, we can began to feast on love. In fact, Lent is the perfect time to learn how to love again. Jesus—the great protagonist of this holy season—certainly showed us the way. In him, God descends all the way down to bring everyone up. In his life and his ministry, no one is excluded.”
Here is your invitation to Lent, whether or not God is real to you, you’re invited:
join us in a season of revision — reflecting, reevaluating, returning. Without it, our souls are silenced. Whether you’re a doubter, disciple, somewhere in between or a little bit of both, no one is excluded, you’re invited:
Join us Sunday evenings around The Table at 6pm.
And join us here online, at The Round Table, starting Monday mornings during Lent.
Today is Ash Wednesday. It is so named because Christians have historically marked the beginning of Lent with a service that included the sign of the cross made with ashes on the forehead. The ashes are symbolic of so much: the science of our human physical make up, that idea that God created us from dust, the power of fire to cleanse and destroy but never to disappear elementally from the universe.
“Remember that you are dust and to dust and to dust you will return. It’s the only thing we know for sure, we will die.” Rachel Held Evans always has profound things to reflect about the journey to follow Jesus. Lent reminds us of the cycle of life and death and puts us in touch with our place in the universe: elements of ash and dust, fleeting and eternal, repulsive and beloved. If you’d like to engage in the practice of “Ash Wednesday” which kicks off the Lenten season by coming face to face with human life and death— join us tonight at 7pm. The Table will be observing together with Shepherd of the Hills Presbyterian at 4600 S. Poplar St.