As I sit with people reflecting on these 40 days Christian communities call Lent, I hear a similar question: “I want this time to be meaningful, but what do I do for Lent?”
In the past, there was an emphasis on sacrifice, of ‘giving up’. Then we moved toward a focus on doing something that had an anticipated positive outcome. We would try to serve others intentionally, listen better, laugh more, write overdue letters etc. This year for many people, these efforts just don’t speak meaningfully and so I hear ‘what can I do for Lent?’
Honestly, I am not sure that is the question of our souls.
As I gaze at the life of Jesus, I see him responding to life as it shows up. He lived life rather than impose some practice on life. He did what he needed to do to keep focused on the God he called Abba. In the midst of his personal struggles, he spent whole nights in prayer. In the midst of crowds seeking comfort, consolation, healing, he invited them to faith, hope, and wholeness. In the experience of condemnation, he was enfolded in silence and ultimately prayed for forgiveness of those who condemned him. He was present to Abba in the midst of life as he found it.
This is our way of life also. To walk through these 40 days contemplatively is to walk open and receptive to God within all of life. It is to engage life as an instrument of God’s transforming love leading us into being instruments of grace in our present world.
For each of us, may our Lenten journey lead us deeper and deeper into the heart of God whose love is everlasting.