This year, in approaching the liturgical season of Lent, I was unsure of what to do. Most years I try to take on some Lenten discipline. Whether it's giving something up, taking something on, or trying to form a new habit, I usually take advantage of this 40 day period as a new beginning of sorts.
As i approached Lent this year, I didn't really know what to do. As tumultuous as life has seemed this past year, I wasn't sure what to try and take on. I opted first for the easy out - giving up soda. I've been drinking a ton of diet coke lately - so it would be good if I could drop some of that stuff. But for something deeper, I was struggling.
Then late on Shrove Tuesday, two things occurred to me. The first occurred to me while I was preparing some bankruptcy paperwork for a client...we categorize debts in bankruptcy by "priority." The debts that get paid first in a bankruptcy are priority debts and the others are listed as non-priority. All this talk of priority made me recall something fundamental. How I got to this point in my life, and ultimately what provided the downfall of my marriage was forgetting that I should at times be a priority. That my health, both physical and mental, and my life only gets to be a priority if I make it one. No one is going to oblige me that. I have to claim it for myself. For whatever reason, this is a tough task for me. I feel pulled in a lot of different directions, and it's tough for me to make me a priority. And perhaps I've felt for most of my life that there was something inappropriate about making oneself a priority. It sounds selfish and silly in some ways. But of course I really do believe it is difficult if not impossible to love someone else (including God) if I can't start with me. If I can't acknowledge the divine or holy in me (from God), then I don't value who I am, in all my abilities and disabilities. So, Lent is also a time for renewal for me - I'm headed to the gym tomorrow to begin to work again. I'm cutting back on things that are not healthy. Not so I can be thin, but so that I remember what it feels like to feel good about my physical body, and so that I can be physically whole.
The last part of this is going to sound "new-agey" or mystical...but I really want to recall again (and perhaps more importantly experience again) what it feels like to be in that divine communion. I've had experiences in my life that have felt holy, divine. But oftentimes I get so caught up in life, and explaining life to myself, that I close myself off from those sorts of experiences. I had one of those moments probably most recently when I was in Mexico bobbing around in the Caribbean. I just felt this presence. And then a peace, that was indescribable. In the midst of my turmoil and my un-settledness, I received this gift. It was all at once amazing, beautiful, holy. I want to be open to the experience. Accept that I cannot explain everything, but to be open. As I struggle to put some definition or some flesh on the bones of that I think is next for me...whether that be seeking ordination, staying precisely where I am, or a third path, I have become a little obsessed with wanting something to strike me. As I have felt "struck" in the past by a notion that I was right where I was supposed to be at a particular moment, so too I want some nod or nudge or gut reaction to arise in me that tells me what is next for me. But part of me is aware that I am perhaps not ready yet. Not open enough, not ready to receive that which is my birthright, my next "home." So the prayer for me, for now, is that I can be open to receiving...whatever it is I might receive. That instead of ripping off the paper and tearing open the box, I'm just open to receiving the gifts. Because knowing what is in store isn't really possible, and imagination of what is next is often scary and filled with too many unknowns. For now I just want to unclench my fist, one finger at a time. Just remain open to being transformed, transfigured into what I was intended to be all along.
It's going to be a good, powerful 40 days. That I know for sure.