Lent Is A Season of Being
It is Lent, and I find myself a bit surprised by it. I don't know whether I imagined Easter as farther in the distance than it is this year, or if I felt as though there was more winter ahead--or both.
Nevertheless, it is Lent, and with it comes all of the familiar feelings and expectations that I place upon myself during this season of the Church.
I find myself asking, "Should I give something up, and be public about it? After all, I'm a pastor, and people kind of expect that of a pastor, don't they?"
Or I'll find myself stewing over all the things that I feel I should do to be a spiritual leader---offering suggestions on spiritual practices and disciplines, modeling prayerful behavior, preaching thought-provoking sermons.
I'll also spend an inordinate amount of time on the things I'm writing (like this particular Devo, for example) because I want to create space for grace for as many people as possible.
And then it hits me...
Everything that I'm fretting over has to do with doing rather than being, which is honestly how I've spent the majority of the past couple of years leading up to this season of Lent.
I can honestly say that one of the hardest lessons I've learned over these past many months is that no amount of effort on my part will enable me to single-handedly dispel the darkness around me.
You see, when you spend your time focusing on all of the tasks that you feel will help you work your way out of the darkness, you find yourself living or dying on your ability or inability to get things done--to control your outcomes.
I recently read this poem by Padraig O'Tuama, which summed this up in dramatic fashion:
The footpath is paved
with the substitutes for
love and holding.
All those paper-thin approvals
have been folding themselves
for a long while now.
And it's not like it's dark.
it's just that there's no light.
you cannot remember the light.
Here's the rub in all of this, though. I am sitting here today with a long list of tasks that require my attention---all of which need to get finished, sooner rather than later.
So how do you find the balance between doing and being that helps break through the darkness, fosters peace within you, and enables you to discover new paths toward spiritual growth?
I'm still figuring this out, to be completely blunt. But what I'm learning in the process is that there's more to be gained from being rather than doing.
In other words, an hour spent reading, praying, journaling or resting might actually make you more productive because it clears your mind, and centers your heart.
Or perhaps you're the kind of person who is regenerated by being outside, walking, running with your dog, or simply finding a quiet place in nature to reflect or meditate.
Lent is definitely a season of being.
It's a season when we are challenged to slow down, to pay attention to our souls as we give up things that get in the way of our connection to God, and then take up practices that renew that connection.
This is how we break out of the darkness and put an end to the constant loops of striving for affirmation, which never satisfies our deepest longings, no matter how hard we try.
May you find space during this Lenten season to be a human being rather than a human doing. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.