February 22, 2012
Lent for Everyday Life
Ash Wednesday and Lent haven't grown old, but they have lost their personal novelty. Having come from a tradition that was more perplexed than pious about people walking around with dirt of their foreheads, I came to Ash Wednesday a few years back for the first time at a retreat and have thus experienced it the last two years in my church community. But this year, while I'm excited about this season for our church life, I'm approaching Lent differently.
Maybe this perspective comes with growing in experiences and while I'm admittedly young, I'm beginning to realize that most of life with God is made up by the quotidian, everyday, common, boring stuff. And it's in the common, familiar, boring, and comforting places that God waits for us. It's also in our common, familiar, everyday routines where we grow casual, tired, and blind to how God plays in our living rooms, laughs over our experiences, graces our dinners, suffers in our pain, and plays house with us in brokenness. It's there in the boring, old parts of life God's Spirit is waiting to dance with us or just sit with us.
With the thought that God is in the boring routines of my life, this year I'm only adding a simple practice to Lent. Knowing that I have a penchant for novelty, the temptation for me is to only search for God in new and often temporary ways. It's a lot easier to find God in a stranger for some reason than the homeless man I see everyday waiting outside our church. It's easier to be hear God speak through a friend than it is to hear God speak through my wife. It's easier to worship with new music at a retreat than with familiar hymns with our church week in and week out. It's easier to find God in someone else's teenager or youth group than my own.
The reality is that God is there in our boring routines, we're just blinded by our familiarity.
So not only am I adding a simple practice, but I'm adding something I had given up since shedding my fundamentalist garb. Not only is this practice old and familiar, it is mixed with odd and uncertain feelings from a legalistic past. This year for Lent, I will be simply praying over my meals. That's it. And in this practice I hope to settle more into life as it presents itself through typical routines and find that God has been with me in all these places I've overlooked.