The 40 days begins today, Ash Wednesday. 40 days, not counting Sundays.
It strikes me what an interesting concept Lent is... marking time, but within it, cutting ourselves a break. A straightforward countdown from Ashes to Easter... but skipping along the way, stopping the clock to celebrate that Resurrection Day, that Third Day. We remember that, as a "resurrection people," our very existence cannot be exclusively a journey toward death. It simply must be--it simply is--punctuated by Sundays: by resurrections, by life, breaking through again and again. (Whether we feel like it or not.)
I'm afraid I'm pretty bad at doing Lent. 40 days, Sundays or not, is long. (Okay, so I've never been stranded on an animal-crowded ark or fasted in the wilderness for 40 days... I guess I shouldn't complain.) What do I need to do, or not do, for 40 days? Ha. What don't I need to do or not do? I need to read quality work. (And not surf online for hours on end.) Write. (Not just to-do lists.) Eat healthy. (Not just carbs!) Exercise. (Not sit on my..... bum.) Be patient with preschoolers and babies. (Not act like one, in response to them.)
It's a bit overwhelming--even to think of trying to choose one.
So I'm trying to listen--where am I being led, this first of 40 days? (Maybe I should be asking: into what wilderness?) But maybe this Lent is about listening, and maybe 40 days of practicing paying attention will bring me closer not just to one Easter Day, but to a lifetime of faithfully balancing death and life. A lifetime of journeys, of sacrifices, of darkness, and especially of resurrections.
Inspiration and companions for my listening journey (which bears an uncanny resemblance to a writing journey, go figure):
Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg
Room to Write, by Bonni Goldberg
Going on Faith: Writing as a Spiritual Quest, edited by William Zinsser