Lent is a call to weep for what we could have been and are not. Lent is the grace to grieve for what we should have done and did not. Lent is the opportunity to change what we ought to change but have not. Lent is not about penance. Lent is about becoming, doing and changing whatever it is that is blocking the fullness of life in us right now. Lent is a summons to live anew. Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB
Aren't we done with Lent yet? Can't we just move on?
Sure, we were all earnest 3 weeks ago when we gathered on a Wednesday night, had scriptures read about our mortality, and capped off with the mark of palm ashes thrust upon our foreheads. But that seems so...yesterday. It was still very much winter. Spring has been flirting with us, we've gained an hour's sunlight in the evening, and the signs of life's renewal are within site...very much in reach.
Or so it seems.
Why bother doing all the spirit work any longer? We're good, right?
We can tolerate self examination and introspection only so much. We'll do it if we think we're supposed to. That's what the invitation to observe a holy Lent implies. It's church-speak...ok, then I guess I'm supposed to do it, it's the "Christian" thing to do.
But a Lent well lived emerges not from what we're supposed to do, but from what we need to do. It is not so much what we need to give as it is what we need to take on. Lent's invitation might open the door to launch inner work, but it's up to each of us to jump in head first and see where that takes us.
Early Christians used this time to prepare. For what? To take on Christ in their baptism come Easter. It is the Lenten "summons to live anew" as suggested by Sr. Joan.
I've spent too many of my Lents thinking of the season as one in which I deprive myself of life lived to the full. But deprivation is what I do when I don't attend to what gives life, joy and peace, and that happens far more frequently than the 40 days of Lent.
This Lent I hear the summons to live so that when Easter breaks out, I am, God willing, prepared to follow where that leads.