i’m planning a lent party and you’re all invited

journeythroughlentIf you’re in California and desperate for more rain, clouds, and cold weather, have no fear because Lent is almost here.  You know, that dreary season of penance and abstinence when you can finally put those tank tops and flip flops you’ve been wearing away because it’s time to squeeze into that itchy sackcloth and stand in a long line heads down for your annual dousing in ashes.  Woe is me!  It’s LENT.  Boo hoo.  And if you haven’t been blessed by a winter of balmy weather and are stuck somewhere else where it’s seasonably freezing, guess what, forty more days of cold for you!

You know it’s always struck me as odd, being a convert and all, how many people struggle with this annual need to “give something up” for Lent and then complain about it to everyone they meet.  For many it’s an opportunity to put aside a vice like drinking or going out to eat or only checking Facebook once a day instead of every fifteen minutes.   Oh I can’t eat that buttery gooey slice of cake dripping in caramel sauce . . . I gave up dessert for Lent.  But you go ahead, that’s alright.  Woe is me!  While I don’t dispute that these temporary denials open up space for God, it’s hard for me to believe they’re that transformative.  And isn’t that what Lent is all about?  In his introduction to the wonderful anthology God For Us, Ronald Rolheiser OMI tells us that Lent comes from an Old English word for springtime, and that in Latin, lente means slowly.  For me, Lent is akin to pushing though the cold muck of winter, stretching my arms heavenward, and opening to beauty.  It could be that way for you, too!  Certainly we must have the ashes to remind us the house needs sweeping, but don’t dwell there too long is all I’m saying.  Instead of giving something up and then being grumpy about it until you get it back — instead of temporarily taking something out of your life — why not make room for something new.  Where in your life can you clear more space for the sacred . . . and be permanently transformed?

This Lent you can keep your chocolate and drink your wine

If you’d like to make more room in your busy life for spiritual fellowship, prayer and JOY, then you should come to my Lent party!  I’ll be leading a group through Sarah Parsons’ A Clearing Season: Reflections for Lent, and while this group will meet in person, I have a a series of reflections posted at The Province of Joy.   Join me there where we can share our Lenten stories and engage in an online discussion about the book.  In her nifty little tome, Parsons reminds us that Lent is not all about penitence and fasting.  It’s a clearing season.  A time for introspection.  A time of transformation and renewal.  I don’t know about you but sometimes there’s a lot more standing between me and God than a box of See’s candy or a good cabernet!  If you think you might like to carve out space in your busy life for spiritual fellowship, prayer and JOY, join us as we journey through Lent together!  You can purchase the book, follow the blog posts, and hopefully share your stories in our online community.  Stay tuned or subscribe to this blog for scheduled updates.

It seems that we need beginnings, or everything eventually devolves and declines into unnecessary and sad endings.  You were made for so much more! . . . You are the desiring of God.  God desires through you and longs for Life and Love through you and in you.  Allow it, speak it, and you will find your place in the universe of things. ~ Fr. Richard Rohr


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  1. For about a year in my early 20s, I attended a Unity church. Although now I see Unity as a bit loosy-goosy, it has its strengths (inclusivity), and during that time it met my needs (although I spent a lot of my time there dodging hugs). At age 23, I had moved over 3,000 miles from anyone I knew, and I was in major self-discovery mode. I was also lonely and probably a bit depressed. One of the things I most remember about my time at the Unity church is Lent. For those 40 days, we were encourage to give up a particular kind of negative thinking. I can’t remember what I gave up, but I remember that we wrote a word (or phrase) on a piece of paper, and then those papers were burned in order to represent their release. This makes a lot o sense to me these days because I’ve been realizing that I might need to let go of much of my guilt as a mother in order to make more room for my joy as a mother.

    Later, when I was hanging out with the PCA Presbyterians, I gave up something more concrete. As part of one his sermons, the pastor had suggested that we all worship something, whether it’s God or something else. I realized that I probably worshiped intelligence. Perhaps because of that, I gave up buying books for Lent. But I’m not sure it did much because I just spent more time buying clothes and home decor.

    Thinking of Lent as signifying that which is “slow” also connects to a book I just finished listening to: “Notes from a Blue Bike” by Tsh Oxenreider.

    • Lent is a lot about letting go, yes! Guilt can take up a lot of space and as you say, crowds out those few and far between moments of joy that really sustain us. Life’s clutter is inevitable — I mean, if it was all about joy, the ecstasy would be unbearable right (St. Teresa and those flaming darts!). I think of Lent as a time of transition, a season to remove these obstructions so that I’m more open to joy. It’s a slow process and requires being aware and self-loving and letting go of what ever’s getting in the way. And it doesn’t end after 40 days. It’s just kind of like spiritual boot camp. XO

  2. I’m in!! See you online. Signing on from soon-to-be-sunny Portland!

    • I am so glad!!! How swiftly the holy spirit works in my life — this thing came together in a week, with thanks to your suggestion, and it was the push I needed to create this second blog space. I am very excited about the sacred space I’ll have in the chapel, but the online conversations I am really looking forward to. See you there!

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