The Lenten Conspiracy

About the time spring decides bloom; two fronts exchange calling cards and the barometric pressure drops. We, in the little corners of civilization we call home, start to dream of warmer days and life beyond the dreary lives we lead. Perhaps if we play our cards right, the darkness is indeed over. The weather around us will be reflected by the date on the calendar.  That’s not how life goes.

Winter doesn’t care about equinoxes and calendars. Instead, it conspires with liturgical seasons like Lent to come back to life at the least opportune time. In the late grey days of a dying March, both winter and Lent find their voices in the wind, clouds, and waves just beyond our reach. Their silent rage taunts me. See us and say! Begging to be addressed, asking to be considered, and knowing I am powerless to do otherwise. Tell us who we are, they say. Explain to us, they ask. Force us into a greater sense of meaning, they pray. We are what you expected, they exclaim. Give us our due. Make us holy. Create Lent.

I cannot sanctify what I do not understand. You are a fleeting expression of God’s presence. In a moment you surround me, chill me, frighten me, and leave me unsteady. I am unable to move. You ask more than I am able to give. The God of Lent is the God whose presence paralyzes our steps, thoughts, and reality. When we cannot comprehend beyond the moment, we become Lent. We become part of the God we cannot discern. Embracing unknowing is the first step of the Lenten journey.

I am not the creator of Lent. I don’t do Lent.  Lent does me.  Lent does not take shape and meaning through me. I am formed by the Lent which finds me on days like today. We live out Lent one cloud, gust, and wave at a time. Tomorrow’s Lent should be different. We change, so will your Lent. Our experiences, while vastly different and guided by the God who unsettles our lives will eventually lead us to the same place. Where we go, what we see, and what we feel before we arrive at the table is not up for me to describe or you to know. Just hear this, we will get there. Today, please be where you are, in your Lent.

Richard Lowell Bryant