What makes up lent, the things we take up or relinquish, are not important in themselves. It’s not a spiritual boot camp. I don’t want to get to the end of lent and think, “Thank God I can have a glass of wine again and some midget gems.” It’s not a spiritual gym either, where at the end of 40 days I can flex my spiritual muscles in the mirror and say: yep – looking good.
For me this year it’s about getting my sight back.
…they bring a blind man to him and implore him that he might touch him. And taking the blind man’s hands he led him outside the village, and spitting in his eyes he laid hands upon him and inquired of him: “Do you see anything?” And looking up he said, ” I see men, such that it is as if I perceive trees walking about.” Then he laid hands upon his eyes, and he stared hard, and he was restored, and he saw everything clearly.Mark’s gospel, Chapter 8, (translation: David Bentley Hart)
I want to make space in what I take up and put down, and in the room this creates, look around for where God is in myself, in the person I’m with, in the world around me. To see with understanding, to look with gentleness and kindness. To look in such a way that I see more clearly than before:
And the bird called, in response to
The unheard music hidden in the shrubbery,
And the unseen eye-beam crossed, for the roses
Had the look of flowers that are looked at.from Burnt Norton, T.S. Elliot
So what if you haven’t started on ash Wednesday. So what if you are 3 days in and already your reaching for the midget gems. The forty days aren’t like a party you can’t get into if you don’t turn up on time. The 40 days aren’t a one time only admission where you find yourself evicted from, because you missed a day doing something or didn’t stop yourself picking something back up. The forty days are saying make a space, make room and you won’t regret it.
if you’ve fallen out of the 40 days then go back into the space with a renewed intention. Because the real journey is about making room to notice, to learn and above all else be with God in a deeper way.
So this year I haven’t started with a list of things I’m doing or giving up. As the days go on I’m going to discern what things I might helpfully hold or release, that I might see the moving trees for what they really are.