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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Lent 2012: What is this Lenten Journey?: Why Observe Lent?

I drive through the Mojave desert most every morning.  The landscape is stark, gritty, expansive.  A visual survey of the miles of flat land rolling up into harsh mountain outcroppings around its far flung waistline reveals wiry dry tumbleweeds...and Joshua trees.  Hearty, weather worn rabbits, acquainted with scarcity, scantily dot the terrain.
They have adapted; they can survive here.
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There isn't much water in the desert.  This is "high desert", above 2500 ft. elevation.  Bitterly cold nights can follow scorching hot days.  This place is a harsh taskmaster.  It is an environment much different from my mountain home.  Yet, I descend to traverse it almost daily, because I must, to get where I am going.

It is peaceful here.  A commute far different from the traffic, taillights, and graffiti splashed concrete of Los Angeles to the south.  

The desert is kind, if one is properly girded for it...fed, hydrated, supplied, and shielded from the sun and can ponder, and examine ones conscience, needs, concerns, in the desert's ambivalent embrace.  The wind whispers in the background.  Sometimes, it howls.

The desert is good for thinking.

Jesus spent forty days and forty nights in the be tried, and found good.  To contemplate and prepare for what was to come.  To demonstrate that man can survive, when fed with true nourishment from above.  To teach us to meet all challenges with the word of God. ...To point us to Living Water.

Lent is our journey in the desert.  Each year, the church bids us meet him there, to prepare ourselves for what is to come.

Soon, in our liturgical drama, our Lord will be betrayed; he will come before Pilot; he will make the ultimate sacrifice....and, while we watch, we will have to decide.  Do we know him?  Do we claim him as our own?  Do we stand by him as the cock crows?  Do we weep at the foot of the cross, and risk being revealed?  Will we believe, with a life changing belief, when the tomb stands empty?

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These are no small decisions.  It seems like the answers to these questions will be easy, doesn't it? 

"....Even if I have to die with you, I will not deny you".~Matt. 26:35

But when we are really faced with them...the questions...stark, cold, and real, with heart pounding scared, and the air hard to draw into lungs taut and confronted....we feel how real the questions are.

Lent is to answer questions.

It is for finding out what we really live.  And, for finding out what it is worth to us.

Join me in the desert, will you?
Photo: Creative Commons, click for license
We have much to contemplate.

We have self-examination to face.
Priorities to set.
Crutches, and barriers, to shed.
We need to feel what it is like to be hungry, in our our souls....
...So we can recognize true nourishment, when we find it.
There are those poor in body, spirit, to feed.
There are the unborn ones to hold vigil for.

Our Lord waits for us in the desert.
That's what Lent is for.

There is much to do, to feel, to think about.  There is much to face, alone...laid we can experience...really experience...the resurrection.

Do you hear his call?

The days are growing longer friends.  (That's what it means you know...Lent, in Middle English: lencten, lengten, .... literally, lengthening of the daylight hours...Lent, Spring). The resurrection draws near...glorious newness of life...the True Light.

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But first, we must sin, to cruelty, to emptiness, to gluttony of body and spirit, to lust.

Lent is for the dying that needs be done.  It is for the recognition that we need the free gift...that we cannot do it ourselves.  That, in him, through him, and by his free gift of grace, we might live.

Let us walk on fearless and determined,...shall we?

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We are currently in the fifth week after the Epiphany.  We are still reeling from the magnanimity of the gift in the manger...from the realization that the gift is for all people.  We are watching as he begins his earthly ministry, as he calls disciples, as he ministers.  But soon, soon, things will get rather serious.  We sense it on the wind. 

Mardi Gras, (Feb. 21 this year), ends the season after the Epiphany.  The next day, Ash Wednesday (Feb. 22, this year) begins our Lenten journey.  Be alert, friends....there is change on the winds.

Pax Christi,
Keep Walking,

Need some ideas for making a good Lent?  Check here.

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  1. Thank you for this timely post. Lent has never been my favourite time in the year. You have spurred me to start to prepare for the desert. And yes the days are lengthening , but it is very cold here today! However I can tell that spring is on it's way - quietly , gradually.

  2. I have been in a liturgical church forever, but I never thought about Jesus being in the desert to show us that we can survive on nourishment from Above alone. That really gives me pause, makes me think about all the things I depend on other than that. A beautiful post and I'm so glad that I stopped by to read it.

  3. Love your thoughts Michelle -- and the music too. It's so refreshing to read good writing on a blog! I am a sacramental, liturgical Christian too.
    I love the season of Lent and look forward to it each year, even in the barrenness of winter. Even though I'm in very mild-weathered, lush, humid Atlanta, I'll happily join you in the desert.
    One of my friends recently wrote a great book on "sacred time" as he calls it: Check it out :D

  4. I love the way you describe the desert in the opening of your post--it doesn't belie the starkness, but at the same time, speaks beauty too. A beautiful introduction to Lent. I feel the stirrings of the coming journey as I read your words here. Thank you.

  5. Michelle,
    I have realized that the Lord allows us to walk desert paths to learn to trust Him more. He alone is our refreshment. He is our life. I am blessed to have you share your wisdom and insight.

  6. Thank you for this post. I had so many (positive) thoughts that my original comment (cut and pasted elsewhere) was making a post instead of a comment! And so it shall (perhaps) be. Let me just say now that you have deepened my appreciation for a preparation time leading up to our celebration of Resurrection Day, and the beautiful way your post connects it with "the desert" is a blessing. (Involuntary) "desert" experiences in my life have yielded great spiritual riches. So, you've got me looking forward to looking forward!

  7. I love Lent, even when I hate it. Everything you say about being nourished really resonates...although I will admit that all liturgical seasons are harder for me to fully sink into with four small kids. Contemplation of any kind is hard to come by. Just posted about that this morning. :/

  8. Thank you so much for this post. I am planning to do a form of Lent this year. My church doesn't formally do Lent, so it is a solitary journey for me. This post gives much to reflect upon.

  9. Hi Michelle - I'm book marking this post as the church I grew up in and the ones I've been to as an adult don't practice lent. I'm looking forward to delving into this further. Thanks for linking up. Would love to see you there next week :)
    God bless

  10. Beautiful post! Beautiful description of the coming days.

    Oh, may we seek Him and find Him in the desert.

    May He bless you in the coming weeks.



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