Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Happy Lent!

I greeted Fr. Y with those words from the title, and he laughed and said it was an oxymoron. I replied, "Yes, I like that sort of thing."

Well, "Happy Lent" is kind of an oxymoron and...kind of not. I happen to like Lent. When I wrote an article for my old church's newsletter, I learned that "Lent" came from an Anglo-Saxon word for "spring." That kind of stuck on me. When I think of Spring, I think of Spring Cleaning, being refreshed, starting anew. Lent is like that -- Spring Cleaning for the soul.

I like the penitential seasons of Advent and Lent because they are an opportunity to intentionally clean up my spiritual life. Like housekeeping, one should clean up on a regular basis, but sometimes you need to set aside a special time to do some deep cleaning.

In a couple of weeks, I'll meet with one of our priests and say my Confession. It will be an opportunity for me to hear God, through the priest, say "I forgive you." Now, I know that God has already forgiven me, but for things that really bother me, I need to admit my wrongs and hear -- physically -- the words, "I forgive you." From past experience, I know that when I can tell someone the wrongs I've done, get a way for making things right (often referred to as a "penance"), and hear the words of forgiveness, I will feel better. Not only will I feel better, but more importantly, I will have made steps toward repairing the relationships that have been broken by my actions -- relationships with other people and with God Himself.

I like the somber, subdued mood in our worship during Lent. It's a break from the frenetic activity that sometimes invades even our worship space. I find that I can connect with God more deeply. Our music emphasizes our brokenness and need for healing. I appreciate that I can stop and admit that I'm human; I'm fallible -- I don't need to know it all or do it all. My 12-step work reminds me that there is a Power greater than I am, and Lent reminds me of the same.

As for giving something up...this year, not so much. I think I'll go the route of adding something rather than taking away. The reality is that I'll naturally give up something in order to make this "new" thing, whatever it may be, fit. This year, I'm going to add exercise and Bible Study to my life. It will likely mean less playing with the iPhone...oooh, can I do it? Heh. I can with God's help!

I wish you a blessed and most holy Lent. Happy Lent!

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