Settling Into Lent

February 27, 2023

Ash Wednesday was almost a week ago and yet, I still don’t feel settled into Lent.

I haven’t chosen a specific book of devotions for my morning meditation time, although I have been re-reading the Lenten section in my favorite Circle of Grace, A Book of Blessings by Jan Richardson.

If you would enter
into the wilderness,
do not begin
without a blessing.

Do not leave
without hearing
who you are:
named by the One
who has traveled this path
before you.

I have not decided on a specific Lenten practice. Earlier this year I decided I would plan my future memorial service during this time, and I will do that, but that doesn’t feel like enough. (What is enough?, you ask. Good question.)

In years past I have listened for a word of the day, filling in a daily chart. Other years I have written and sent one letter or note every day. And then there were the years when I focused on my extensive collection of spirituality and theology books, choosing at least one to discard each day. Each year my collection deceased by at least 100 books. That practice has made me more aware and disciplined about the books I decide to keep and to acquire.

But what about this year? Richardson’s words guide me:

Let us say
this blessing started
to shed all
it did not need,...

What do I no longer need?

A new issue of the quarterly publication, Bella Grace arrived in the mail, and I added it to the stack of previous issues I have barely glanced at. When I first started subscribing to it, I set aside time to immerse myself in the lush photography, the inspirational essays, and the suggestions for appreciating the beauty of everyday life. I even submitted my own essays to the publication and was thrilled when several were published. One, “The Comfort of Shawls” was even reprinted in one of their other publications, The Cozy Issue, and another, “The Magic of Reading in Bed” was published in the Bella Grace blog.

Although I hav continued to submit essays, such as “Porch Envy” or “Window Wishes,” none have been accepted the last couple years. Disappointing, of course, but I have come to realize and accept that as a near 75 year old woman, I am no longer their audience. The magazine is geared to much younger women. Women during the child-raising years. Women managing careers and family life. Women discovering who they are.

I’m still discovering who I am, but now in a much later decade. Not only is Bella Grace no longer a good fit for my writing, but Bella Grace is not a good fit for me, and yet, I have stacks of past issues on my bookshelves. Ok, Lenten Lady, it is time to clear the space. But first, I decide to page through each one, saving some photos and quotations I may want to use as writing prompts for the church writing group I facilitate.

Good. I like the idea of having one more almost empty book shelf, although I am keeping the issues in which my essays were included, but this activity, this decision is not only about letting go, but also about acceptance and awareness. Accepting who I am now and awareness of who I want and need to be now. A Lenten practice.

It's true that
you may need
to do some crumbling,
That some things
you have protected
may want to be
laid bare,
That you will be asked
to let go
and let go,

But listen.
This is what
a desert is for.

The true spiritual practice for me this year, perhaps every year I am blessed to have, is to pay more attention to how I am to love and live right now. Right now, right here. What does each day call me to do, to be? What bookshelves in my inner life need to be emptied and in what ways am I holding that sacred space? How do I carry this sacred season of Lent with me? And how do I notice the movement of God?

How does being an elder become my spiritual practice?

I am my silence. I am not the busyness of my thoughts or the daily rhythm of my actions. I am not the stuff that constitutes my world. I am not my talk. I am not my actions. I am my silence. I am the consciousness that perceives all these things. When I go to my consciousness, to that great pool of silence that observes the intricacies of my life, I am aware that I am me. I take a little time each day to sit in silences so that I can move outward in balance into the great clamour of living.

Embers, One Ojibway’s Meditations by Richard Wagamese

As Jan Richardson would say, “this is where the breath begins,” and perhaps, this is where my Lenten practice emerges.

An Invitation

What spiritual practices are emerging in your life right now? I would love to know.

2 thoughts on “Settling Into Lent

  1. Thanks for this blog. I am right there with you, from letting books go, to stacks of journals I subscribe to but don’t read, to wondering who my audience is these days . We are losing two sets of dear friends this Lent as they relocate in opposite directions from us. Letting go is very real for me.

    With all the heaviness in the world, I am keeping a daily gratitude journal this Lent. And instead of listening to the plethora of other spiritual writers and theologians, I am listening to scripture and my own journaling this season, letting go of spiritual FOMO. Letting go is definitely key this Lent. May God bless yours.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you so much for sharing where you are this Lent. Your phrase “letting go of FOMO” so resonates with me. I am in a time of sorting–the “stuff” like books is the easy part right now, but letting go what I think I should be doing, or what attracts me, but really isn’t how I want or need to use my energy is much harder. Your decision to listen to scripture and to journal is profound–I am holding you.


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