Friday, February 19, 2010

Our Lenten Journey

Lent began Ash Wednesday, February 17, ushering in a season of reflection that takes us through Holy Week to Easter.

During this time we are invited to move in two directions—in and out—kind of like breathing.

On the one hand we might choose to do things a little differently. Traditional Lenten activities often involve such practices as dedicating time for prayer each day, or we might fast and then offer the money from our meals to our food bank. We could begin a practice of taking a walk each day or visiting someone who is lonely.

All these kind of practices could be described as "breathing out," showing up in the world in a slightly different way.

On the other hand we might choose a "breathing in" kind of practice. We might take time each night before sleep to notice where our lives seemed strained that day or out of balance. We might also notice what was particularly life-giving.

We could begin a simple journal where we make a list of just those two things: what was life-giving, what was life-draining.

We might want to search our heart for places of tension where we need to offer the gift of grace and forgiveness, not only to others, but also to ourselves.

We might also reflect on the nature of our thoughts: how often do we respond reflexively to someone. Are we really listening to what the other is saying or do we already know what we will say next?

The capacity to focus our attention deeply on ourselves might seem, at first glance, a little self-serving. But these are the very kinds of practices that begin to open us up to the leading of God, to free our hearts and minds for the mission of God’s work in the world.

Our part, again and again, is simply to reduce the interference within us, to be clear channels of God’s grace.

blessings + peace, Laurie