Several weeks ago, when Ash Wednesday marked the beginning of the Lenten season, the liturgy invited us to, “observe a Holy Lent.” I struggle with that phrase. How can I observe a season that is set apart and unlike anything else in the year? This is always the question that I face as I struggle to decide what I will give up, or what I may add to my spiritual life. In other words, what can I do to make this time in the church year matter?
First, Lent is not about giving up, or adding to our lives. Matter of fact, our actions are really not the primary focus at all. This time in which we prepare ourselves for the joy of Easter allows us to reflect on the incredible expanse of God’s amazing love. It is about our awareness of our own mortality and that our creator calls us into relationship with Him. We are invited to struggle with our own weaknesses, always calling attention to the wonders of the grace that is given to us by the One who loves us. This, to me, is the gift of Lent.
The good news is that at the end of the season, we celebrate the resurrected Christ. We celebrate with a renewed heart, graciously recalling the lessons we learned in the Lenten season about ourselves, those around us, and our amazing God. We don’t leave the gifts in the season. They become part of our daily journey.
Holiness gives way to ordinary. I don’t mean this in a negative fashion. The very nature of the term holy refers to something that is sacred and set apart. My hope is that while observing a spiritual discipline during Lent, the practice may become such a part of life, that it becomes second nature. It becomes an ordinary part of our day. Perhaps it is understandable to see why a season of Ordinary time follows the Easter season in the church year.
Praise be to God, that we are given seasons in our lives in which we can reflect on the incredible and boundless love of the Holy One. We are called to remember that we are children of the Most High God. That, to me, is the gift of this season. And it all starts with a commitment to observe a Holy Lent. May we honor the season, ourselves, and our God very well.