All posts filed under: Lent

Embracing Finitude

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.  ~2 Corinthians 4:7 In the liturgical year, there is no more striking reminder of our mortality than on Ash Wednesday.  Our foreheads are marked with the cross and we hear “it is from dust you came, and to dust you shall return”.  It never fails to be a strange experience, standing as you would for a blessing, and receiving such sobering words; yet it is also surprisingly comforting.  It is a moment of release, a restoration of place.  It is the first step in the long Lenten journey, and it starts with a word of truth; a reminder of our finitude. I recently listened to a beautiful talk on “The Spirituality of Time” by Professor Sarah Williams from Regent College.  In it, she explores the nature of time and our post-modern society’s view contrasted with the perspective of the church.  She makes many profound observations, but the most striking among them was an emphasis on …

The February Garden: A Pre-Lenten Reflection

The February garden is a sacred place.  After the rubble and debris of Autumn’s first frost are cleared away, there falls a deep, expectant silence.  What appears barren holds the promise of new life.  The parallels to our liturgical year are rich and striking.  As we approach Lent, there is a process of stripping bare.  We rid our lives of unnecessary entanglements and distractions and withdraw from a world that glorifies activity and self-gratification. In our chaotic culture, times of rest and preparation are undervalued if not disdained.  We have an obsession with the overt.  I remember when I first came to this realization  I was in my first year of medical school.  Already, I had to start thinking of ways to build my resume for residency applications.  At the time I was voraciously reading books on theology and spirituality.  I hungered for truth and community, yet the time spent cultivating character, virtue, and relationship was not something that could be placed on a list of achievements.  There was pressure to create an external, visible, and measurable persona, …

Make Room: A Child’s Guide to Lent and Easter

As we prepare for Lent this year, I’m thankful to own a great new resource — Make Room: A Child’s Guide to Lent and Easter by Laura Alary (a very thoughtful gift to my daughter from her godparents). In the book, Alary sets out a map for Lent, explaining in simple but lovely prose that Lent is for “making time,” “making space,” and “making room” for the kingdom of God in our everyday lives. She connects the seasonal rhythms of the natural world and the liturgical rhythms of the church calendar. The illustrations by Ann Boyajian are subtle and evocative, very appropriate to the subject matter. I’m going to use this book as a guide to our Lenten journey, planning to incorporate the practices and traditions that Alary mentions: Lenten Candles Making Pretzels (I didn’t know this fascinating background!) Spring cleaning (i.e. “make space” in the house) Plant a Easter Garden Eat plain meals and cook with strict limits Be hospitable I’m hopeful that reading this book often and using it as a map will help our 3 year old …