I needed the reminder this week’s reflection provided.
I always suck at Lent about this point. When you do a fast from something for 40 days, this is the point where it becomes mundane. You are no longer in the beginning stages where it is really tough but exciting. And you are not in the final stretch where you are just ready for it to be done. At this point, it seems like the fast is barely noticeable.
It becomes easy to forget why we are doing it.
Or, if you’re like me, and you are doing daily practices, this becomes the point where you start to slip. You forget to do a day or two. Then you try to catch up and that becomes overwhelming or you just sit and think about how you suck at Lent.
These can be the more difficult parts of Lent, because it is hard to see any fruit at all in these times.
Plus, we get busy. In the last couple of weeks, everyone in our family has been sick with something at least once in the last couple of weeks. School is getting busy with papers and tests. We have had something going on almost every weekend so we have been missing our Sabbath time. And none of this even mentions work.
So when I am honest, it is easy to see the slacking off on Lent is more a result of those things. Lent gets pushed to the side. My busyness seems to make me flat-out forget.
I think the quickest way to get selfish and turned in on ourselves is to get BUSY. When I am busy I am always concerned about the next task. Instead of trying to see the people I am engaging with or where God is present, I am worried about what I need to accomplish today.
I miss the things that are important because I end up having too many tasks or things on my mind. It may be three or four days before I even think outside of my to-do list.
Relationships slip. Time with God slips. Or maybe a better way to say it is: awareness slips.
Even Lent itself can add to the problem. Rather than trying to use each day as a way to deepen my walk with God or deny my selfish impulses, I just have another task to accomplish.
But in the midst of all this, Lent helps us create the margins we need to keep this from happening.
Lent is a call to remember.
We put these disciplines in place as a way of disrupting our self-centered and self-focused lives. And so even when we forget or miss or fail, there is still the nagging presence of Lent.
Remember. Be here. Be present. Don’t forget you are loved. Remember the folks around you are loved as well. Don’t forget God is as close as your next breath.
And above all, remember resurrection is coming. New life, hope, joy, celebration are all always in the background. Lent helps us remember how to more fully participate in resurrection.
This is why the Sundays of Lent are so important. We need Sabbath. We need the space to remember.
Being busy lends itself towards forgetfulness. Sabbath is all about remembering. It is about stopping all of the craziness and reflecting on our life and the ways we see God moving.
In Sabbath, we are invited to remember we are more than what we accomplish. To remember we are more than the tasks we need to check of the to-do list. To remember we are more than the things vying for our time. To remember life is not about me. And to remember I am loved just as much when I forget.
Lent is a way of building new patterns into our every day living. And when we take the time to pause and reflect (to create a margin!) we begin to see how what seems unfruitful now is building new rhythms in our hearts.
But we have to take the time to do it. We have to learn to slow down.
We may still get busy and self-centered, but Lent creates a longing in our heart that calls us away from those old patterns. It is disrupting self-centered ways of living and allowing the space for God to break in and do something new.
It is the practice of remembering that resurrection is just around the corner.