Category Archives: Lent

Ash Wednesday

sunset

Today we die, so that we may rise again with Christ on Easter morn.

“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

This is more than uncomfortable; it’s intolerable.

Dust is nothing. It scatters in the smallest breeze, is tracked over the carpet without us noticing, and covers the surfaces we don’t see and so forget to clean. At the most, it’s an annoyance, something that makes a little more work for us, or that makes us sneeze. At the least, it’s less than nothing. It’s a part of our daily lives that we don’t notice until it bothers us, and then we only notice it until we’ve alleviated the annoyance.

And yet this is what we came from. Adam was dust. As his children, we are children of dust.

I am a child of dust.

Like dust, I could be gone in a poof, in a moment of thoughtlessness on someone’s part. My dusty body would still, then mold, then later disintegrate. Eventually, it would be part of the dust that coats someone else’s bookshelves and knicknacks. They wouldn’t know me, or remember me, or even think about the dust that once was me as anything more than their current annoyance.

More sun

Part of me is dust, but part of me is light. God gave Adam, the dust-man, His own breath. He made him living dust, dust that could think and walk and talk and love and cry and scream and make decisions and have responsibility. He made him dust-and-more-than-dust.

As Adam’s child, I also am more-than-dust. But it is hard for more-than-dust to live with dust. So the dust must die. It must die for the more-than-dust to live.

Today we die, so that we may rise again with Christ on Easter morn.

Sunrise

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Lent before Lent

Lent

There’s something about Lent that makes me want to forget that it’s Lent.  Or that Lent is even coming.

Every single year, I figure out that Lent is coming about a week or 10 days before it actually arrives.  Then, I manage to forget about it entirely until Maundy Tuesday, when I either decide frantically what I want to give up for Lent, or give up on Lent because it’s too late in the game and do nothing, or do something “normal” halfheartedly.

This Lent isn’t any different–I only know that Lent starts next week because they talked about it in church yesterday.

I’m a little disturbed at this trend in myself, but it also seems very human.  Lent is something that should make us uncomfortable.  It asks us to leave our status quo and move toward what makes us uncomfortable.  It asks us to voluntarily step into discomfort, or to spend our time differently than we might otherwise choose, or to exert energy where we might prefer to “just see what happens.”

The easiest way to avoid that discomfort is to forget about it completely, like I do.

And yet, Lent itches in my mind.  There’s a nagging little place that reminds me that practicing Lent has, in the past, been something good for me and something that has fed me.  I remember being bold in my first Lents, taking on more than I thought I could do and finding success in God’s strength.  In other words, I remember Lent being like it was supposed to be.

So this year, I will practice Lent.  I’m not yet sure how, but I will.

I encourage you to, as well.  In the next several posts, I want to talk about discerning a Lenten discipline, particularly as I go through my own experience trying to do just that again this year.   Feel free to join me, or to come along beside.

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Alleluia!

Easter is strange this year. I mean, it’s still good and all, but I’m not feeling it like I have before (which has never been enough–I’ve always wanted to feel it more–you know, feel bad for my sins, feel grateful to Jesus for dying, and feel all the love and triumph of his resurrection). It’s weird, because I particularly asked him to help me feel it this year. But, having asked that, and having felt less, I somehow think that that’s where I should be. Not that there aren’t those nagging questions in the back of my mind–Is it me? Did I do something wrong? What if I just tried harder?–but they don’t seem real. That’s actually something that’s been particularly cool lately–I feel like the nagging questions are becoming less and less the real me, and what I really feel, or want, or need, is coming out. Like…well, this is a long-ish story, so I’ll give it its own paragraph.

I always have doubts about my salvation–I always have, and maybe I always will, though I (obviously) would hope not. Someone once said that, as long as you’re concerned about it, you’re fine, because you’re caring about the right things. Last semester, a prof. of mine added to that. He said that you have to be caring about those things for the right reasons, as in, not wanting to be saved just to avoid hell, but because you really want to worship God, or honor him, etc. And I got worried, because when I’m concerned about these things, what always comes out is that I really don’t want to spend my life thinking that I’m going to heaven and end up in hell. But lately, though that’s still something that’s present in my mind, it’s like that’s not quite as real, or not quite as central, as some of the spontaneous thoughts I have about wanting to honor God and glorify him. So I still have the thoughts, but it’s almost like I can call them out, and see that they’re not all they’re cracked up to be.

So anyway, that’s what seems to have happened to Easter. Maybe it’s just because I want to prove that people can SO to through a Dark Night of the Senses before age 30. Or maybe because it’s really happening. Or maybe, as I become more steadily with God, he’s becoming more steadily with me, with less Grover-like running into relationship and then out again. I’m not quite sure what happened. I do know that God not giving me all that I want because I want it feels good somehow.

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Holy Week

For some reason this year, it’s been hard to feel like this is Holy Week. Maybe that had something to do with the fact that I was on call for Jury Duty all week (which is really stressful, because you can’t plan anything without saying, “But I might have to call you the night before and cancel.”). So I’ve now gotten out of it twice (as in, I called in every night for a week but never had to actually go sit in as a prospective juror).

But back to Holy Week. I really do love the services and stuff that we have. I love the symbolism, and how it’s so rich that it reaches to a part of me that’s even, I think, beyond emotion. As in, I’m not exactly sad or weeping when they strip the altar, but something in me is touched, and is awe-struck, and is in complete agreement with what they’re doing.

It’s a little disturbing, all the same, to not quite be feeling everything about this. I think there’s too much there for me to feel. If I could see, could really and truly see, everything that Christ has done for me, I think I would be overcome, or undone. So he lets me see it little by little, bit by bit, so that I am not destroyed. Which is totally amazing and wonderful of him, and a little bit annoying at the same time. Annoying because I want to be able to see it all, to take it all in. I don’t want to be limited or less than or below in any way. But the truth is that I am all of those things, and so he is gentle with me, even when I would be harder on myself. So even on the day of his death, when he is the one dying and the one who all of this should be about, he is about me. He is focusing on me and on what I need and on not overwhelming the me he has made.

When I think about it that way, the emotions start to come.

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‘S Ash Wednesday, Everyone

It’s also the Chinese New Year, which sounds significantly happier to me. You know, passing around money versus choosing how you will NOT spend it for the next 40 days. Except Sundays. During Lent, it’s TGIS, not TGIF.

My biggest problem with Ash Wednesday is the smudgy stuff they put on your forehead. I know why they do it, and I know that it’s important, but it’s smudgy. As in, it gets black stuff all over everything if I don’t take it off as soon as I get home. Maybe I’m just a mess. The smudgy stuff also makes me remember Melissa and all of the other Roman Catholics in Jr. High and High School who were pretty arrogant and condescending about their smudges. I think I just thought they were strange. Go figure. Now I’m strange.

So, just for the record, I don’t actually hate Lent. Or Ash Wednesday. It’s just that it’s always funnier to write about what annoys you than about what you like.

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