07 April 2014

Lent, just different

Lent is more than halfway over, and it feels like my lent has been a a bit of a disaster.

In years past, I have joined in on the community's meals, meatless meals eaten with 20+ people silently listening to music playing in the background.
This year, I have eaten alone more often than not. At the same time, I have eaten meat more often than I have in ages. And my attempt at fasting for a day ended late in the afternoon when I decided that I needed to accomplish a few things more than I needed to learn (more) about my difficulties with self-discipline.

In years past, I have attended the chapel services in the community multiple times a week - last year during lent even trying to attend daily. Each service spoke of Lent, whether through the reading or the songs or through the familiar purple curtains which were long my responsibility. And even in the days when my attention was elsewhere, the liturgy's lack of a praise song - present throughout the rest of the year - would gently remind me that this season was different.
This year I have church only on Sunday, in a church that I am not familiar with enough to know how this season of Lent has been different than other seasons. All I know is that it has taken me awhile to realize that I have been missing the familiar songs of Lent from my childhood. I have also become less diligent in attending local Catholic services and regret not doing 'daily prayer' more often.

The hardest part of Lent, though, has been Matthijs' absence. The day before Ash Wednesday marked the end of almost 40 days of not seeing him - an odd way to start Lent, which is known in Dutch as the 40-day time. Lent is a time of giving up, but how was I to enter a time of sobriety when I had been given back that which I had found hardest to give up in coming here? But the sobriety has returned, and the short 4 weeks of absence feel like another 40 days.

It feels like I have done a lousy job this year of using Lent to re-order my life by looking at my brokenness and sin more closely. Yet, God has graciously poked at me to expose my brokenness: how I have too often taken for granted those I love (both here and in Amsterdam), how often I don't open myself up to how God can work through me (I have much to learn about being a pastor!), and how desperately I need God's help in ordering my life (as a visit to monastery reaffirmed to me). Most importantly, this Lent has very much helped me to long for Easter: for being re-united with those I love and for being awed by the power and might of the resurrected Lord.

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