This year as the season of Lent begins, I am recognizing anew its significance. I grew up in a tradition where Lent was not highlighted and over the past few years it has become more meaningful.
As the rhythms of the calendar pass by this year, I am viewing them through the lens of being in a season of grieving. Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the season of Lent, which focuses on prayer, fasting and a simpler life. It is a somber time leading up to Easter.
As I reflect on grief, I see the parallels through Lent.
God takes the ashes of my grief: the moments where things appear grim and hopeless, the feelings of aloneness, the river of tears, the pain that seems bottomless, the ache of longing that is unfulfilled.
God takes these ashes and invites me on a journey of hope. The path that is full of ashes becomes a journey of hope that leads to healing and wholeness. It is a journey of restoration and redemption.
On days when death feels overwhelming, God is summoning me toward life.
On days when the darkness seems to suffocate, God is piercing it with radiant light.
On days that seem entrenched in valleys of sorrow, God is offering me joy.
On days where the loss seems bottomless, God is reminding me of the gift given.
On days when life seems dismal, God is giving me glimpses of hope.
On days when I am filled with fear, God is inviting me to a deeper trust.
On days when I feel lost and adrift, God is welcoming me to find my home in him.
This journey is long and hard. It is excruciatingly painful. Although there are glimpses of the destination, at times it seems far off and unattainable. But the journey is worth the trip. It is easy to want to rush the journey. And yet as we take the time to be still and notice, God is present. There is evidence of life, joy and hope intermingled with the pain. Each step is a journey toward deeper trust and a richer experience of God and life.
Lent may be a regular practice in your life. Or perhaps you have never taken the time to observe Lent. Or maybe you are engaging in it for the first time this year. Whatever the case may be, as the days lead up to Easter, may you be mindful of the journey you are on and be intentional about taking moments to stop and notice and to engage God more deeply as you recognize that the journey we are on leads to resurrection life.