My First Lent

These days, I’m finding myself drawn to more ancient forms of Christian faith. Not that there’s anything wrong with today’s “mega churches” or “mega church wannabe’s” with their well-produced Sunday morning productions of feel good “face-melting” worship and practical advice for a better life (at least according to our Western culture’s version of success).

But some of today’s more popular “mainline” faith practices seem to either explain away the mysterious and difficult elements of life and faith or avoid talking about them all together.

So…. when I was a part of those types of faith communities – they weren’t so very much into the cycles of the ancient church calendar such as Ash Wednesday and Lent.

I mean, why would we want to focus on that 40-day season of hot parched desert and relentless temptation if the whole purpose of our faith is to use God to make our lives on earth pretty and prosperous?? Why not just wait to get all happy on Resurrection Sunday? (That happy stuff brings in bigger offerings, anyway).

But as wonderful as that human success-driven church culture can seem, there’s something exhausting and simply fake about trying to live as though God’s purpose is to bring glory to me and not the other way around.

So, I’m now a part of a small community of believers that meets in the middle of an old downtown area and for the first time in my life I took my ashes on last Wednesday and entered in to relating to Christ’s suffering through a season of lent.

I wasn’t sure quite what to expect. But I’m finding this season to be authentic, rich, and freeing though difficult and somewhat anti-cultural.

The most beautiful thing to me about this practice is that it tells me that it’s ok to walk through periods of mystery and tension in life with ashes on your head and maybe even in your heart.

And, because I have a lot more time to journal and write since endless surfacing of Facebook and Instagram is one of the things I’ve set aside for this season, I was able to capture some of my thoughts in the little poem below:

I’m learning to rest in the tension of a human walking with God
instead of pretending I have it all figured out

It’s not always truth just because someone shouts it loud
and it may not be a lie just because it brings doubt

If somehow in attempts to walk this life out
I create space for authentic connection – maybe that’s what it’s all about

I likely won’t know answers until I breathe my last or hear a trumpet sound but until then may some of Christ’s mercy and justice in me be found

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