I recently came across this quote by Frederick Buechner: "One life on this earth is all that we get, whether it is enough or not enough, and the obvious conclusion would seem to be that at the very least we are fools if we do not live it as fully and bravely and beautifully as we can." There is such truth in this simple statement, and I find myself challenged by these words as I ponder them. I'm currently enjoying a visit with my Dad and much of the rest of the family as we gathered in Florida for my niece Madeline's wedding to her beloved Adam. As I think about these two joining their lives together, full of hope and promise, I pray they will live "as fully and bravely and beautifully as they can." Life is a precious gift and so often we can get bogged down in its day to day demands that we can miss the wonder of it if we're not careful. With Lent just around the corner, I wonder if I might approach Lent from a place of fullness and beauty? This almost seems like a contradiction of the somberness of this penitential season where there is issued this invitation:
"I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the mobservance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God's holy Word. And, to make a right beginning of repentance, and as a mark of our mortal nature, let us now kneel before the Lord, our maker and redeemer." (BCP p.265)
As many of you know, I struggle with Lent and each year I wrestle with what to give up or take on to make it a meaningful and God honoring season. During my childhood and early adulthood, I loved Lent and its discipline and opportunity to draw nearer to God. I'd give up something and/or add on some spiritual disciplines and by the time Easter came around I found myself closer to God than when Lent had begun. After a while, that stopped working and the challenge was to find some practice that would draw me nearer to God. I felt pressure to do something better than I had done the year before. I discovered that this trying to one up myself made Lent more about me than God. I talked to my spiritual director about it and another time I spoke with one of the nuns when I was on retreat at the Cenacle. She suggested instead of giving up something for Lent I ought to ask God what He was going to do for me for Lent! That sounded so strange to me at the time, but when I came across this Buechner quote to "live it (life) as fully and bravely and beautifully as we can" I found myself revisiting the idea of approaching Lent with an open heart and mind about the possibilities of what God might want to do for me this Lent.
How might I live more fully and bravely and beautifully? How might you? What does God want to do for you this Lent? Do you have any plans for how you want to approach Lent this year? Perhaps there is sin that needs tending to. What sin is separating me/you from God? Is there an area of your life you wish to get right with God? Confession can be good for the soul. In the Episcopal church the official stance on making a confession to a priest is "all may, some should, none must." Whether you want to talk to me or not, I remind you that God's word tells us "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9) However we choose to approach Lent this year, I pray that Lent will be a meaningful season for us all!
We are reading Living Compass's Living Well Through Lent and discussing it at Rector's class at 9:15AM Sunday mornings. All are welcome. You can pick up a copy at church if you haven't already or find an e-edition for $.99 at Amazon: Click here to Purchase