Slouching Toward Lent

Epiphany has been good to me this year. Despite the darkness of winter, my world has been cloaked white and bright. The Scriptures have shimmered with the play of light and dark, and I’ve watched that Light caress its way through each reading, each page, the Presence of God so present and real that the darkness is no barrier to Him. I’ve been pondering the mysteries of light and dark in Genesis 1, and doing so with a beautiful, messy rag-tag bunch of believers in a way that feeds my soul.

I’ve been waking up with Psalm 23 on my lips: Yahweh is my shepherd; I will experience nothing as missing.

So, I’ll admit, the awareness Lent, which starts in a mere month on Wednesday, March 5 (Ash Wednesday), is still a reluctant one in my soul. I can see her—with her radiant melancholy, her holy beauty, the chains of oppression and addiction and affluenza broken around her feet, clanking like castanets as she dances—out of the corner of my eye. I’m not ready to turn my head. Not yet.

At the same time, it’s good to heed her dancing presence. It’s good to prepare, even though I’m not yet ready (when am I ever ready?) Lent is, in many ways, another season of light. It’s the light that exposes, the light that shows us ourselves truly, the light that helps us live in reality before God and others, the light that shows us our places of brokenness and leads us gently on the path to shalom.

And that’s a path I can’t walk alone—none of us can. Wholeness, shalom, is never accomplished in isolation. We need one another on this stumbling journey of faith, we need the companions who talk with us on the road, who witness with us when the stranger who spoke so wisely among us turns out to be Jesus—and vanishes, somehow, once more. Just when we thought we had a hold of Him.

In that light (see what I did there?), I thought I’d share a few Lenten resources and suggestions with you. You still have time to order most of them in time for them to arrive before March 5. If you do, I encourage you to grab a friend and go through whatever resource you’ve chosen together. Talk about it along the road. Consider what’s happening in you. Interact, chew, pontificate with others on this Calvary journey. And if you have other helps for the journey that you would like to suggest, share them with us in the comments.


God For Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Lent and Easter

If you’ve been around here awhile, you know how much I love God With Us, a guided set of readings and art for Advent, Christmas and Epiphany. This year, the publishers have come out with a similar resource for Lent, with readings from authors like Lauren Winner, Richard Rohr, Kathleen Norris, Luci Shaw and others. I’m looking forward to walking through this book this year myself, and if there’s enough interest, might host a few book club type discussions of it on the blog.

Beloved: An Online Journey Into Lent & Easter

Jan Richardson is a gifted artist and writer, and I’ve taken both her online Advent and Lent retreats, much to the enrichment of my soul. Her online retreat costs $90, and includes a daily email reflection (Monday-Friday), as well as an optional (and very active) online forum if you want to interact in community with others during the retreat. Jan’s art and words are just the type of gift that make this season so very rich.

7 Books for Lent

Last year, I talked about a number of other books that are also good companions along the journey. Those recommendations still hold, so surf on over to read about resources from Richard Rohr, the Irish Jesuits and Thomas Merton, among others.

What To Give Up

I’ve also talked before about what you might consider giving up for Lent, in 13 Things To Give Up For Lent and Six Weird Things to Give Up For Lent. I’ll be writing more about that later this month, but if you want some early inspiration, click on over there.

Be: Life and the Rest of It

Finally, I’m co-leading one week of an eCourse on Lent, curated by Brandy Walker of Brandy Glows. This retreat isn’t for the super spiritual, or even for the professing Christian (although I, and many of the co-leaders, do love and profess Christ). This retreat is for the tired, the burned out, those that aren’t sure about religion any more (or ever). The focus of the time will be rest (per the title), and incorporating life-giving spiritual practices into your regular routine, accompanied by recipes and lots of self-care. The early bird cost is $87, so if your soul shouted “YES!” when you read the word “rest”, hop on over and register. I’m leading the week of Holy Week, and will be talking about spiritual direction and holy listening, among other things.

Other Stuff

Oh, and if you want to visit some of my other thoughts on Lent, you’re welcome to here and here and here.

So, what about you? Do you have a favorite Lenten resource or practice? Are you ready for Lent, or just watching her out of the corner of your eye, like me?