As I look out my window and listen to the soft sounds of rain against the glass I am reminded of the rain’s fresh, cleansing power. I know with rain will come the new life of spring. I watch my world coming to life – seeing the daffodils and crocus peak their sleepy faces from under the dirt. I feel the anticipation of new growth that marks the beginning of our Lenten season.
Lent is an invitation to look at my life in a way that is conscious, purposeful and life-affirming. For me, it is not a once a year event that precedes Easter, and it is no longer a season of penitence. Just like the rain outside my window washing my world anew, Lent is a call for me to consciously look within and weep for what I could have been or done differently. Crying is like the rain I see outside, soft and steady, washing away the dust and residue, healing the landscape, nurturing the ground of my being to prepare for the beauty yet to be born.
This is the season that gives me the opportunity to change what needs changing in order to be in service to what I hold so dearly – belonging to each other, living a meaningful life, and living it more abundantly. To have a life that I live more abundantly also means I need to determine what is worth dying for, and what might be necessary for me to do, be and become if that is what I really want. In others words, Lent is a microcosm of the eternal and ever-present “growing season” about becoming, doing and changing whatever it is that is blocking the fullness of my life.
So I need to open myself to all of life, to touch the darkest places inside that are unlived and unloved, things I have allowed to turn to dust – the places I have been refusing to consider bringing into the light of day because of shame, guilt or anger. Opening myself to relationships that need reconciling, employing exercise and nourishment for my body that says I do believe it to be a temple, connecting with my silliness, listening to the wind or loud music, reading murder mystery books, putting effort into my spiritual practice, or regretting my quick tongue and harsh judgments – are all hiding behind my own closed doors, the things I weep over awaiting integration so that I might live my life more fully, and more abundantly.
Lent is my time to look for the places that need rebuilding, places where life yearns to be revived, finding the sterile, harsh deserts within that long for watering. Lent is the season for consciously finding the places where I’m like the little inchworm all curled up inside itself trying to protect itself from life’s predators. Playing dead so that no one can hurt me anymore.
Evagrius of Ponticus, an early desert monastic, counseled young monastics, “First pray for the gift of tears, to soften by compunction the inherent hardness of your soul.” Weeping is a life-giving experience. Nowhere is it more obvious then for those of us immersed in the spring rains that bring life outside our windows each day. If we do not weep in our own lives, we shall never understand other human beings. Weeping washes clean those unloved portions of myself, allowing the possibility of life being born anew in me and as me.
There are two moments that matter. One is when you know that your one and only life is absolutely valuable and alive. The other is when you know your life, as presently lived, is entirely pointless and empty. You need both of them to keep you going in the right direction. Lent is about both. The first such moment gives you energy and joy by connecting you with your ultimate Source and Ground. The second gives you limits and boundaries, and a proper humility, so you keep seeking the Source and Ground and not just your small self. – Fr. Richard Rohr
Lent is the season that commands me to live anew. It brings me to the center of myself, the heart of the holy, where my awareness is one in the One. It’s not a once a year event, nor is it something that happens to me, but rather Lent is a doorway into a pilgrimage that lasts a lifetime – to have a meaningful life that I live ever more abundantly.